What You Should Do After Buying A New Computer System

Martin Brinkmann
May 20, 2009
Updated • Jun 29, 2017

Dante send me a link to another "malware found on purchased laptop" story. The new M&A Companion Touch netbook did not ship with one or two malicious programs, no a total of three were found of it: an USB worm, a rootkit and a World of Warcraft password extractor. These things seem to happen regularly and it is not only laptops that are affected by this.

We have seen malware appear virtually anywhere where it can appear in the last years, even on music CDs from a well known company whose name I do not need to mention as everyone knows it as the rootkit company in these days.

The fact that malware can be found on nearly any device with readable or writable storage requires a new way of thinking on part of the user.

While you may have trusted companies in the past, it is no longer the best course of action as the example above highlights.

So, what can you do to make sure that the new computer, music CD, smartphone, tablet or router is not infected by malicious software?

via XKCD

There are two lines of thought when it comes to verifying that a new computer or electronic device is clean and not compromised: the first has you scan the device with recent antivirus and security software to make sure it is clean.

The other is a bit more thorough than that, as it suggests to reinstall the operating system from scratch.

Security companies may advise you to scan a newly purchased computer system thoroughly before you start to work with it to make sure it is clean and not infected by malicious software.

They may also suggest to stay offline during the procedure which can sometimes be problematic if the computer system is the only available at hand.Even if antivirus software is installed, it usually needs updating before it is of any use. Plus, if the computer is infected, the software may be useless for this task anyway.

The same is true for antivirus software that is purchased in stores.

Security experts suggest to download the virus definitions for the antivirus program from a different computer with Internet access. That's problematic if there is only one computer system available. Solutions for this may be to visit friends to use their computer, go to an Internet Cafe or computer shop to download it from there. Then again, all those systems may have infections as well.

One of the better solutions seems to be to wipe the drives clean and install an operating system from scratch on it. That is only working if you have the operating system at hand though.

Which leads to the question: What do you do after buying a new computer system?

What You Should Do After Buying A New Computer System
Article Name
What You Should Do After Buying A New Computer System
The article discusses what you may want to do after buying a new computer system or electronic device to make sure it is not compromised.
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  1. LinuxCanuck said on May 21, 2009 at 1:08 am

    Ask for a refund for the Windows tax and install Linux.

  2. Robert Palmar said on May 20, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    The article admits factory-installed malware is rarely found on consumer electronics.
    Anti-virus firms have a vested interest in promoting fear to insure their own survival.

  3. RG said on May 20, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Live offline and forget about computers ;)
    On a more serious note, first apps that get installed are things like AVG, Spybot, etc. if in that time something happens you will notice it when you run the above. If it’s a malware that can evade anti-malware tools then you are in trouble whether the computer is new or not.

  4. Martin said on May 20, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Uninstall all the crap. Format and reinstall if possible. Make an image of the new installation to restore later.

  5. AtariXL800 said on May 20, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Download all the latest versions of your security programs using another computer.

    Disconnect from the internet, reformat the hard drive on the new one, partition it and reload the operating system. Load all important programs and the security programs you downloaded. Close all unnecessary services. Reconnect to the internet and update the OS either through MS updates or via Autopatcher.

  6. Peewee Cruz said on May 20, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    malware on new computer? That’s horrible.

  7. Ramesh said on May 20, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    In addtion to Bohemian said….
    1. Open cd /dvd tray, put in ubuntu 9.04 cd
    2. wipe off Mr.Gates useless stuff
    3. Install Virtualbox
    4. Install M$ crap on the Virtualobox sandbox with no more than 1 gb ram
    5. Enjoy using new laptop / desktop

    Then Ask Virus, worm..IE what the heck is that…:-)

    Long live opensource

  8. Rico said on May 20, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    i build my own desktops, but for laptops i simply reinstall the OS, assuming there’s a discrete OS install disc and not a restore disc. If it’s not included, i obtain the product key and a copy of the OS so that i can bypass the crapware most machines load.

  9. sexysofie said on May 20, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    all new computers that come with microsoft preinstalled contain malware. the problem
    is that nothing can stop microsoft from doing it, not the european government or even
    the US government. microsoft owns you. bill and steve are laughing all the way to the
    bank. the people have brought this upon themselves and it’s up to the people to free
    theirselves. if you want privacy then you need to use an open system. a closed source
    system such as microsoft and macintosh will always contain spyware and other control
    mechanisms. hello? hello? can anybody hear me?

  10. Danny said on May 20, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Reformat and use the disk image to reinstall the OS.

  11. Nicolas said on May 20, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Make your computer youself and avoid pre built computer that is alway junk

  12. computerguru365 said on May 20, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    first thing to do is create a dvd image of the hard drive exactly as you bought it, and then format and install any os u want, ie Ubuntu. That way, when u go to sell it, u can put the factory image back on there.

  13. jese said on May 20, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    srsly, just format with ext3 and use a proper os :)

  14. 0d3 said on May 20, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Wipe it and install the OS I want and the applications I want. Almost all new computers have so much crapware pre-installed that its just easier to wipe everything and start from scratch.

  15. Junkman said on May 20, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Not all of new bought computers contain malware, though surely it can happen from time to time. I would definitely go back to the seller and return him “dirty” computer, if you ask me.

    1. Martin said on May 20, 2009 at 12:30 pm

      Junkman that is if you realize that the computer contains a virus :)

  16. LethAL said on May 20, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Format all drives and install my choice of Windows on there.

  17. bohemian said on May 20, 2009 at 11:23 am

    wipe it out, install linux, move on :)

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