Run a small office? Here's one basic security tip you should know about

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Run a small office? Here's one basic security tip you should know about

Here's a basic IT tip that can help reduce the likelihood of security nasties running amok on your work computers.

When you set up a new Windows PC, the default user account might be an Administrator account.

But limiting your staff to Standard user accounts, rather than full Administrator rights, makes it harder for malware to get a foothold in your business.

Why? Logging into the Administrator account grants the user the right to install software, alter security settings and make other changes to the computer. Most of your staff probably don't need this kind of control over their computer, but thankfully there are alternatives.


What will setting up Standard accounts prevent my staff from doing?

Rather than grant all staff members Administrator rights on their computer, it's safer to create a separate Standard user account for them with its own login and password. Using a Standard user account won't impact on most people's day-to-day use of their computer, but they will be prompted to enter the Administrator password when making significant changes. This includes disabling the firewall and changing Windows Update settings.

It will also prevent them from installing many applications, but not all. Some legitimate applications and malware can still be installed using Standard user accounts, so they're not a magic bullet to protect staff against all threats. Standard user accounts do however offer an extra layer of security when used alongside anti-virus software and other security safeguards.


What happens when staff try and login as Administrator?

When prompted for the Administrator password, staff will need to seek permission from someone in authority. An unexpected request for the Administrator password could indicate that malicious software is trying to install itself or make changes behind the scenes, but staff can't blindly click "Yes" to everything if they don't know the Administrator password.


How to create a Standard account

To create a new Standard user account, open the Control Panel, click User Accounts and then click Manage another account.

From here you can click Create a new Account and then choose Standard user rather than Administrator. It's also possible to downgrade an Administrator account to a Standard account, but make sure you create a new Administrator account first.

If staff share computers you can create several Standard accounts on the one computer, giving each person their own desktop, My Documents folder and access to certain applications. When logged in as a Standard user they can't make changes to the computer which will affect other user's accounts.


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