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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Sharing Your Computer Securely

If you're the only person who uses your computer, you don't have to worry all that much about the security of your user profile—that is, your files and Windows Vista settings. However, if you share your computer with other people, either at home or at the office, you need to set up some kind of security to ensure that each user has his "own" Windows and can't mess with anyone else's (either purposely or accidentally). Here's a list of security precautions to set up when sharing your computer (these techniques have been discussed earlier in this chapter, except where noted):

  • Create an account for each user—Everyone who uses the computer, even if they use it only occasionally, should have her own user account. (If a user needs to access the computer rarely, or only once, activate the Guest account and let him use that. You should disable the Guest account after the user finishes his session.)
  • Remove unused accounts—If you have accounts set up for users who no longer require access to the computer, you should delete those accounts.
  • Limit the number of administrators—Members of the Administrators group can do anything in Windows Vista simply by clicking Submit in the User Account Control dialog box. These powerful accounts should be kept to a minimum. Ideally, your system should have just one (besides the built-in Administrator account).
  • Rename the Administrator account—Renaming the Administrator account ensures that no other user can be certain of the name of the computer's top-level user.
  • Put all other accounts in the Users (Standard users) group—Most users can perform almost all of their everyday chores with the permissions and rights assigned to the Users group, so that's the group you should use for all other accounts.
  • Use strong passwords on all accounts—Supply each account with a strong password so that no user can access another's account by logging on with a blank or simple password.
  • Set up each account with a screensaver and be sure the screensaver resumes to the Welcome screen—To do this, right-click the desktop, click Personalize, and then click Screen Saver. Choose an item in the Screen Saver, and then activate the On Resume, Display Welcome Screen check box.
  • Lock your computer—When you leave your desk for any length of time, be sure to lock your computer. Either select Start, Lock or press Windows Logo+L. This displays the Welcome screen, and no one else can use your computer without entering your password.
  • Use disk quotas—To prevent users from taking up an inordinate amount of hard disk space (think MP3 downloads), set up disk quotas for each user. To enable quotas, select Start, Computer, right-click a hard drive, and then click Properties to display the disk's property sheet. Display the Quota tab, click Show Quota Settings, enter your credentials, and then activate the Enable Quota Management check box.
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