How to surf the Web & read e-mail safely as an administrator


Microsoft could regain much of the computing community’s lost confidence (which may be slowly returning) if it would spend more time on public relations than on marketing hype. Case in point: Tech-savvy users have warned of the dangers of running Windows as an administrator and have recommended various solutions, including running with a limited user account (which has problems, not the least of which is that it won’t allow you to install vital anti-virus updates); yet, for over a year, Microsoft has had a workable solution, a little program aptly called “Drop My Rights”. (Download DropMyRights.msi here).

Last November, Microsoft Security Engineer, Michael Howard, published “Browsing the Web and Reading E-mail Safely as an Administrator” on the Microsoft Developer Network website. Basically, you create a shortcut using dropmyrights.exe pointing to the application you want to run as a limited user. Here’s an example (from the article): C:\warez\dropmyrights.exe “c:\program files\internet explorer\iexplore.exe” (yes, include the quotes). You could do the same with any application you want to run as a limited user, Outlook Express or Firefox, for instance. Dropmyrights.exe will affect only the application you launch with it; everything else will run normally in the administrative user context. Howard’s article gives detailed instructions and explanations, but is quite technical , so be prepared for some geek jargon.

Dropmyrights will prevent any ActiveX controls, browser hijacker programs, spyware, adware, etc. from installing, even if you give permission. Mike Healan, over at says he has tested this out on some rather nasty sites and it prevented any malware from being installed.

One Response

  1. happyandblue2 says:

    It’s too bad you have to specify each site. It would be a nice extention for IE or Firefox..

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