Home Networks and User Account Security

Securing your internal network always starts with the same concept, namely authentication. In the same way that you need a unique card to access your bank account, all users of a network should have their own unique username for identification purposes. While have all users access a network using the same username is obviously simpler, it is also inherently insecure, and doesn’t allow you to take advantage of the benefits that security measure like permissions provide.

When users log on to a PC using a unique username, they are allocated a dedicated folder structure on the disk that stores their individual files, folders, and settings, which is obviously beneficial in a shared environment. On a Windows XP or 2000 system, this folder structure (which includes folders like My Documents) can be further secured to ensure privacy, and we’ll explore shortly.

More importantly, when users are assigned individual usernames, those users can be assigned unique permissions to network resources such as shared and local folders on a Windows XP or 2000 system. User accounts are created using the User Accounts applet in Control Panel, as shown below. The steps for creating user accounts on a Windows XP Home system is relatively straightforward, and involves following the steps of a very basic wizard-type interface. On a Windows XP or Windows 2000 Professional system, use the Local Users and Group tools available in the Computer Management administrative tool. Both Windows XP and 2000 systems include a built-in Guest account. This account is disabled by default, and should be left as such for security purposes. If you need to grant a new user access to your network, taking the 2 minutes to create a dedicated user account for them is always a better solution.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of 2000Trainers.com. He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.