Often when you purchase a computer with the operating system pre-installed the computer is configured to start straight up without asking you to select which user you want to login as. This means that the store has set up the computer with just the one user account having administrator access meaning that anyone can turn on the computer and go straight in and do anything. This means that any malware that gets onto your computer (such as viruses, trojans, keyloggers etc) also has access to do whatever it wants. This is not a very secure setup.
The first thing that you can do with the computer to make it more secure is to add a second user.with more limited access to what it can do on the computer. Depending on what version of Windows you are running you will either have two choices of access level for users on your computer (administrator and limited) or more than two.
The main difference between the administrator access level and the others is that administrators have access to install and uninstall software on the computer while the other user types do not. By only using a user account with administrator access when you want to install or uninstall programs you dramatically reduce the chances for software to get installed onto the computer without your knowledge.
All properly designed modern application software will run properly for a user with limited access so using a user with limited access as your everyday account is one simple security measure that you can apply that doesn't need any software in order to apply it.
When you want to install new software onto the computer (or uninstall software that you no longer need) is the main time that you would use the account with administrator access. Provided that you give that account a password and the application you are installing is a .exe file you don't even need to switch users to be able to do the install as you can simply right click on the exe file and select "Run As" from the menu and then select to run it as the user with administrator access in order to run the install from your regular user account. The "Run As" only works where you have a password on the administrator login as that option always requires a password for it to be able to run.
While setting up a second user on your computer means that you now have one extra step when you turn the computer on (selecting the user you want to work as) the additional security that this provides in helping to limit the damage that any malware that does get into your computer can cause is well worth it.
This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.