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The problem is not using the ‘root’ privileges from time to time; the
problem is using them by default, having them be auto-logged-in at a GUI
by default, and not explaining anything else. I personally don’t like the
auto-login feature at all, though I suppose it could have its place for a
public terminal or something where everybody uses the same username or
something, or for a wallboard or something where there is no interaction
with the desktop (set one of those up… worked really well too).
Privileges are needed when you need to CHANGE the system. Do you expect
everybody who happens to walk up to the system to need to CHANGE the
system (vs. just their user)? Hopefully not, and if so then hopefullly
you can explain why and such.
Take a step back. How does windows get infected to the point that no
matter which user uses it they are all compromised (sniffed passwords,
hijacked browser sessions, personal files sent out over the Internet to
who-knows-where)? Because the SYSTEM is infected, and not just the user
account. Why isn’t malware trying to infect the base system stopped by
permissions setup to prevent random altering of system files? Because
windows is written poorly and requires you to be privileged to do a LOT of
non-system things. For example, the last time I had to help somebody
install a toolbar (microsoft’s even) in internet explorer they had to be
an Adminsitrator… to add a toolbar to a web browser. Also they had to
reboot, which implies interacting with the kernel of the system (not
something that should be related to a web browser ever, at all). Compare
that with Firefox, or Opera, or any other browser: Tools: Add-ons, Add,
restart browser. Tada, all done. This is because user-specific settings
should be, well, specific to the user. windows has never been a properly
multi-user platform, though, so a lot of these basic concepts are missed.
Most non-technical people (and even some of the technical folks), at some
point in their lives, will click on a link they shouldn’t, be redirected
to a site they shouldn’t trust, or download some piece of software of low
repute. What happens at that point is a matter of training and
environment. Most non-technical users aren’t trained to read the screen,
so instead they click the nearest ‘Ok’ or ‘Yes’ even if the prompt says,
“I’m going to infect you and steal your passwords.” because they don’t
know better. At that point the system does what the user says and nothing
can prevent the user’s own files from being subject to the user’s will so
personal documents may be compromised by whatever that user is running,
but the rest of the system should be completely safe… UNLESS that user
was running as a privileged user. In that case the entire system is
vulnerable to the user’s whims.
Don’t run as root unless you need to, and most of those times you should
be using sudo, gnomesu, kdesu, etc. or responding to the system’s prompts
to elevate your privileges understanding exactly what is happening.
On 03/03/2010 12:06 AM, hdhiman wrote:
> Just an experiment.
> Lets say i do make root login as default. How much am i compromising my
> system? If i need to do trouble shooting etc, i still have to use root
> account, right?
> So if the issue here is that the root account will be open and active
> during my desktop session, is it completely exposed to anyone on the
> internet etc?
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