Are you a user?

two avocado halves representing the difference between admin accounts and user accounts

When you bought your new laptop, did you take much notice of whether you were setting up an administrator account or a user account? 

Probably not. Most people are just too excited to get their hands on a new device to think about cyber security when setting it up. 

But here’s the thing: an administrator account (or admin) has permission to make any change they want to, such as changing user-account passwords, or changing what someone else using that device is permitted to do. Admin users can install and run any program they want to and can read anything they want.  

Using your device as an admin user is very convenient—you can make changes quickly, on-the-fly—but not very secure. If an attacker gets into an admin account, they will have complete control, and can install and run any software they like, read any document, and lock other people out, including you. 

A user account, on the other hand, is limited to running certain programs—usually just enough to let them do their work: sending emails, creating and editing documents, using the internet, and so on. Typically, users only have permission to make changes that affect their own user account. This might sound like a constraint, but it keeps the system more secure. If an attacker got access to a user account, there’ll only be so much they can do by way of damage. It’s not good, but at least they won’t have complete control. 

So, given the everyday risks that we all face of clicking on a link in a phishing email, accidentally downloading some malware, or of being the victim of an online malware attack by visiting an infected website, it makes sense to limit the damage that can be done to your device.  

We recommend that you set up and use a ‘user account’ for your everyday work activities, and save the admin account for when you really do need to make some significant change to your device settings. You will have to log in and out (so don’t forget the admin password), but it will enhance your security.  

Looking for more help? Give the Click and Protect team a call on 0113 733 6230 and let us know how we can help.