I really love getting viruses and malware on my computer – said no one ever.That’s right, those pesky, mysterious, annoying little troublemakers are the scourge of PC owners everywhere.

But here’s a major reason why malware is so successful. It’s because a majority of people are using their computers wrong.

Picture this. You get a new computer, take it out of the box, create a username and password, and hit the web full throttle. One thing we rarely consider are the permissions associated with the account we just created on our brand new system. And this can result in some pretty big problems down the road.

When a virus or malware installs on your system, it typically gains the same level of permission as the user who’s accessing your system. That means that if you’re account has full admin rights, then so does the unfriendly little intruder who wants to hijack some aspect of your system.

So what can you do?

One way to severely limit the damage done by malware is to create a separate user account with restricted system privileges. What this means, in plain english, is that you should create an account that can use the programs and applications on your system, but cannot make changes to your system.

But then how do I add a new program, or do something else that requires admin privileges, you ask? Simple, you just log out of your regular user account and login to your admin account. It’s all about knowing the role you need to play, and then logging into the appropriate account. Just need to surf the web, check your email, “like” some cat pictures on facebook? Great, just log in as a regular user. Need to install a new program or device? Great, just log in as admin.

It’s important to note that limiting system permissions won’t defeat every threat out there. But it will certainly limit the number of ways that malware can attack your system.

For you do-it-yourselfers out there, here’s a great link that goes into greater detail about the value in setting up alternative accounts. It even tells you how to do it yourself.