user account

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A user account ( english user account ), short user account or the account is an access authorization to a restricted IT system. Usually one has to user to the login with user name and password to authenticate .

The system uses the user account to identify the individual user. This essentially serves the following purposes:

  1. Depending on the user role , a user is assigned different privileges , for example access rights to data and (sub) systems. Many computer systems have a particularly privileged user account that is intended for system administration .
  2. Together with the user account, personal data ( master and transaction data ) and configuration settings of the respective user can be saved.

Operating systems

An operating system saves the configuration of a user account in the so-called user profile .

Special user accounts

The user account specifically for the purposes of system administration is in Microsoft Windows administrator , at Novell's network operating system NetWare Admin and Unix -like operating systems root . Other special user accounts that are frequently encountered are:

  • Guest as an account for guests (usually without write access, often without a password)
  • Anonymous as the account for logging on to FTP servers; Here you usually want to provide your email address when you register
  • Shell account , a user account on a remote computer through which the user can access it on the basis of a Unix shell .

Groups and roles

Often, user accounts are combined into groups. The group's rights are also assigned to all of its members.

  • On Unix systems, the groups are usually combined in the file /etc/group; the assignment of the user accounts to the primary group takes place via the file /etc/passwd. Each user account can, however, belong to several groups; then the assignment is /etc/groupmade in.
  • On BSD systems, a user can only have root rights if he is assigned to the wheel group . In addition to groups, it is also assigned to classes that assign it parameters such as locales and barriers such as maximum number of processes.
  • There is a sophisticated concept of roles in Zope . In addition to the group concept, these roles can also be assigned locally , for example in order to only assign editing rights in a certain subtree.


Working with unnecessarily privileged user accounts (e.g. the "Administrator" account in Windows) is considered unprofessional, as it makes the system more vulnerable - every program can contain a bug in the program or a security hole. If such a program runs under higher privileges, the computer system can also be damaged more sensitively (for example by overwriting system files).

Some manufacturers deliver their operating system in such a way that you can work either as an administrator or as a user with administrator rights without change (example: Mac OS X , Microsoft Windows up to and including Windows XP, from Vista limited rights, Linspire ).

User accounts on the Internet

A user account is required , for example, to receive and send e-mail : when logging in , the e-mail provider connects the user to his e-mail inbox .

Furthermore, user accounts in web shops , in online banking , in social networks , forums , chat rooms , wikis and many other areas of the World Wide Web are common. The user is linked to an online identity via the user account. A user can (usually) acquire several such identities.

Internet security

In particular, if a user account is accessed via external networks, e.g. For example, in the Internet café or via hot spots , security-relevant data such as user name and password can be intercepted / tapped, provided that these are not transmitted in encrypted form; see also encryption protocol . A sneaking attacker could slip into the role of the user.

See also