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Chapter 2. General Network Security > Users and Their Roles

Users and Their Roles

A user is someone who will access the computer or its resources. Sounds simple, but what does that really mean? It means that somewhere is a list of names and passwords (and usually several other pieces of data), and each entry on the list defines a user to the computer. A user in the computer sense isn’t the person who is sitting at the keyboard but a name and password used to identify what will be allowed. The computer cannot make any distinction between two people who log on with the same username and password. The reason we can make assumptions about a person matching a username on the computer is that the only one who usually knows the password associated with a particular username is the person who is allowed to use the username. If the person gives that password to anyone else, the computer can make no distinction that someone else has logged on to the computer. If you need to assign different permission levels or access levels, you cannot share passwords or accounts with people who need different access.

Everyone who uses the computer will use it for different purposes. Word processing, Web access, e-mail, chat, games, homework, and research are just some of the things you or your family members might do on your computer. Yet even though we all use the computer slightly differently, some users can be grouped together into roles for easier administration. A role is a group of access and/or privileges that defines how a user is allowed to use the system. For example, one role might be Game Player, and this role would have access to the games directory and the ability to change files in that directory for saving or deleting games. They might also be denied permission to open or change any files in the home-banking directory. Home-Banking Users might have a different set of permissions or be allowed to use different programs and could even be allowed to play the games. You can decide how you want to set this up.


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