Is it safe to use limited account without antivirus?

sam1275tom

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Oct 13, 2014
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Hello.
If I don't install any AV or firewall on my Windows XP computer, but I use a "limited account" instead of administrator, is it safe?
Thanks.
 

LucoTF

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Sep 6, 2013
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There are lots of free antivirus products that still support XP and will continue to do so for at least 12 months. Try AVG free or something

http://www.av-test.org/en/news/news-single-view/the-end-is-nigh-for-windows-xp-these-anti-virus-software-products-will-continue-to-protect-xp-after/
 

Calculagator

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Nov 18, 2014
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No. The only safe way to use XP is to never connect it to any network.
It is certainly not safe without a firewall or AV. A basic privilege escalation exploit will give an attacker full control of your machine even if you are using a "limited account."
 

ThomasLeong

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May 27, 2013
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I disagree with the others. A non-admin account cannot install .exe files, etc. so it is quite safe.

However, you are still your own best anti-v. It is quite safe if you know the sites you visit are safe. The inherently dangerous sites are quite well known. Additionally, never open emails/pdfs/attachments from unknown people. And even if known (friends you know), their contacts database may have been compromised. The usual dangerous stuff asks you to click on an url. Just trash it instead.

I have not had an anti-v in my pcs for at least 5 years now. And though I don't log into my pc with a Guest Account, there has not been any mishaps for me. The last anti-v I used was one of those free ones mentioned, and occasionally, without warning, it would flash a notice that my files were infected and proceed to delete my .exe files forcing me to re-install my programs. My guess is that these free stuff 'scares' you with such incidents with the hope of you signing for the paid stuff with 'more protection features'. Bull!! After discarding them all for years now, I've not had a program .exe file deleted unless I do it myself.
 

ex_bubblehead

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Incorrect. As long as the installation does not require access to restricted areas of the system (the Google Chrome installer for instance) it's entirely possible for a piece of malware to install itself, elevate its privileges, then pull down additional pieces, all while running as a restricted user.
 

sam1275tom

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Oct 13, 2014
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Thank you everyone.
But I have a question, you said "It's entirely possible for a piece of malware to install itself......", but how can it do that if I'm not log in as administrator? All program are jailed outside the system core area, that's why I considered to do that.
 

ex_bubblehead

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Programs do not run in a "jail". There are exploits that allow an executable to elevate its privileges even when running under a restricted user account.
 

ThomasLeong

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May 27, 2013
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Obviously, there is always a risk. The question is "How great is that risk?" What is the probability of being hit? With an admin account and anti-v installed and running, can one say the risk is not there?...etc. The questions are endless.

From my experience, my brother-in-law, a complete noob on PCs was infected a few years ago. I cleaned up his laptop with a few tools, and told him to log in from there on as a non-admin account, i.e. Guest. Since then, he says he has been fine. Of course, I did also instruct him not to simply click/open unknown files and urls, even those that say it is good for his pc. Unlike me, he does have one of those free anti-v though.
 

sam1275tom

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Thank you and everyone.
I knew there are exploits that allow an executable to elevate its privileges even when running under a restricted user account, but this also happen to Linux right? But no one use a A-V in Linuxs, I know there won't be perfect safe on any OS, but will Windows be more dangerous then Linux if both run in limited user, without AV?
 

Calculagator

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Nov 18, 2014
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Windows is more dangerous because attackers only need to create a single virus package to infect thousands of computers. Windows XP will not be updated to remove any security vulnerabilities, so they can be used repeatedly.
Linux may be as vulnerable, but there are not nearly as many machines vulnerable to the exact same attack, and most linux machines can be easily updated to fix security vulnerabilities.
 
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