As a certified Comp Tia A+ Computer Technician, I have seen a variety of computer problems. Anything from dropped laptops, bad hard drives, and faulty memory in machines new and old. However, the single most common and perhaps biggest mistake unaware computer users make is operating their computers with what is known as administrator privileges (ap).
Through no fault of their own computers, user or users surf their favorite social networking sites and conduct business completely unaware of the threat to their computer, their data and personal information.
To explain, administrator privileges are granted to the user operating a computer using the default administrator account set up on a new Windows Operating System (OS) computer. AP gives the user super powers over every operation of the system a normal user wouldn't have, from installing software to turning safeguards on and off and herein lies the problem. In a state of AP, the system is completely vulnerable to attacks from the Internet. Not only does this state give the user complete control over the system but savvy computer hackers as well.
The potential damage caused by viruses can be anything from an annoying pop-up to causing physical damage. The computer software manufacturer, Microsoft, is not very good at educating users on the dangers of operating their systems on the so-called administrator side of the system. Every computer I have ever repaired has been operating on the administrator side. The true danger lies within the privileges themselves. There are pieces of code designed to interact with your system or take control of parts of your system in order to legitimize applications and websites over the net. However, when these pieces of code called Active X controls are used by hackers, they can give them unprecedented control over a system. Ironically, Active X controls were invented by Microsoft.
The solutions to this problem are simple and only take a few minutes, but can make a world of difference in safeguarding your system. It's only a matter of creating a limited user account from the computer control panel. A limited user account is just that - "limited", denying the user and hacker from making system wide changes to the operating system. If you are not familiar with how to setup a new user account or where your control panel is on your system, you can get detailed instructions at microsoft.com
and type "set user accounts" in the search box.
I will explain here how to get to your control panel to help get you started. Under most Vista, XP, and Windows 7 Operating Systems, the user can gain access to the control panel a number of different ways. The simplest and most direct is to use the start button located in the lower left hand corner of the desktop. From there one can see along the right side of the pop-up window, a list of places valuable for the user to go. One only has to click or double click on the control panel icon and you are on your way to the control panel window. If you have never seen the control panel before, it can look a little intimidating. However, don't let it scare you, look around for a minute; I'm sure you'll start to see some things that look familiar to you. This is where the settings are for most of the functionality of the operating system such as sound, web-cams, and user accounts. Once there, it becomes only a matter of clicking on the user account icon and following the instructions found on the Microsoft website on setting up a user account. It's simple, only a few clicks and a little typing and you're on your way to being a more secure user. A word of caution, it is suggested to set a password. If you choose to, I recommend thinking hard on the password you will use. If you wish to setup a password for the user account and the administrator account be warned if you are attempting to create an administrator password account after you have setup your system, the operating system will warn you of the serious repercussions of doing so. Another advisable thing to do is to use the service provided to create a "Do not forget password" media. Depending on the system you are running, this may be worded different but it does the same thing. It provides the user with a rescue in the event he or she forgets their password. Once passwords are created, good password security, password protection, and practices are paramount. When changing your password, don't reuse passwords, and be cautious of writing them down. As with the new Windows 7 Operating System, the user is prompted every 30 or so days to change their password. If there are more than than one user on a system, it is advisable to create separate accounts for each user and issue each user their own set of passwords reserving the administrator password for, well, the administrator. There would be no need to give this password to the average user. Be smart, be safe and take simple steps to help insure a happy and secure experience while using the world wide web.