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Initial Passwords in Operating Systems

Windows Systems

Within Windows systems, an Administrator account is automatically created when you set up a system. This account may default to using a blank password. This is a common way that hackers can gain access to your system. In addition, this may be a "hidden" user, so if you look at the users set up on your computer, you may not see this user.

To change your Administrator's password, you will need to:

  • Log in with the user name Administrator and a blank password
  • Change the password to something non-trivial. To change the password, once logged in as Administrator, press [Ctrl + Alt + Delete]. The Windows Security window will appear.
    • Click Change Password, then enter the current (old) password (which may be blank) then the new password in both the New Password and Confirm fields.
    • Click OK, then Cancel.

Another way to prevent hackers from gaining access to your system is to change the default login names. On Windows systems, there is a default user of Administrator. Changing the name on this account will make it more difficult for hackers to gain access to your computer. In addition to guessing the password, they will need to guess the user name as well. Like the password, the user name should not be your name or some combination of your name, but rather something that is not easily determined about you.

To change the name for the Administrator's account on Windows:

  • Click the Start button, select Control Panel, then double-click User Accounts (under Vista, you will also need to click Manage User Accounts)
  • Click the Administrator account from the list of accounts currently set up on the computer, then click Properties
  • In the User Name field, enter the new name of the Administrator's account. This should be a different account than your own. The account with which you are currently logged into your computer will need to have Administrator privileges (e.g., be a member of the Administrator's group) in order to do this.

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Mac OS X

Mac OS X also has an Administrator password which you are asked to supply when you first set up your computer. This password should follow the rules outlined in Password Rules.

You need this password to install software on your computer. If a hacker can determine this password, they can install whatever they want on your computer.

To prevent others from accessing your system, change the Administrator's password:

  • Select System Preferences from the Apple menu, then Accounts.
  • Select the user(s) listed as type Admin, then click the lock icon if it is not already open to allow you to make changes.
  • Click the Change Password button, then enter the current password followed by the new password in both the Password and Verify fields.
  • In the Password Hint field, you may optionally enter a clue that will remind you of what you entered for the password, depending upon how your Login Options are set. This hint should not include information that would help someone guess the password. It should be a hint that is useful to only you.

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Last Updated: 2/13/13