Can New IT Equipment Come with Viruses, Malware and Other Vulnerabilities?

Submitted by melissa@market… on

Getting a new computer or other new IT equipment is usually a very positive experience. The new product may have some cool new features, and it typically operates more efficiently than what you had before. Unfortunately, new IT products sometimes come with security issues right out of the box. While it’s very rare for a brand-new computer, tablet or mobile device to come pre-installed with a virus or malware, certain other issues appear more commonly, creating vulnerabilities in your system. 



Some new PCs come with unnecessary pre-installed software known as “bloatware” or “crapware.” Although not necessarily malware, these programs can consume a significant amount of system resources, such as memory, storage space and/or processing power, thus slowing your system down and creating a less-than-optimal experience. Examples of bloatware include promotional software, which often feature limited-time special offers; apps added by PC manufacturers for customer support; or app stores added by mobile carriers. Bloatware can usually be removed, but it may be challenging; special third-party tools or a factory reset may be required, for instance.


Zero-Day Attack

A new computer, component or application can be subject to a zero-day attack, which refers to a cyberattack that exploits a vulnerability in software or hardware that was previously unknown to the manufacturer. Because there is no knowledge about the vulnerability until a cyber criminal exploits it, there are no patches or defenses available at the time of the attack. Robust cybersecurity practices can minimize the risk of your system being impacted by a zero-day attack. Ensuring that reliable security software is installed and updated, enabling firewall protections, and using secure network connections with a strong password and multi-factor authentication (MFA) policy can go a long way in guarding against this type of attack and others.

Browser Extensions

A new computer can come with browser extensions, which can cause a variety of problems ranging from minor inconveniences to serious security issues. Browser extensions can show up on new computers in a few ways, including when manufacturers pre-install software or when third-party software providers install bloatware as part of a marketing agreement with the manufacturer. Extensions may cause unwanted ad popups and performance issues. Some extensions collect data on user habits, thus invading user privacy, while others actually contain malware that can steal personal information or install more malware. These risks can be mitigated by carefully reviewing your pre-installed software and any browser extensions and removing any that are unfamiliar or unnecessary. You may also consider performing a clean installation of the operating systems to remove any pre-installed software and extensions. By installing reputable anti-virus and anti-malware software, you may also be able to detect harmful extensions and/or software.  

IoT (Internet of Things) Devices

IoT (Internet of Things) devices are physical objects containing sensors, software and other technologies that allow them to connect and exchange information with other devices and systems over the internet. Common IoT devices include smart appliances, smart thermostats, fitness trackers, health monitors and many others. Many of these devices are imported from China and may contain malware, which creates a security risk for the entire system to which they are connected. Choose IoT products that have cybersecurity certificates and that come from reputable manufacturers. When installing a device, be sure to change the default password to a strong, unique password. Monitoring your network and endpoints with effective cybersecurity solutions can help reveal any suspicious and potentially malicious activity once the IoT device is implemented. 

Central Business Systems, a one-stop shop for all business technology needs, has been serving businesses throughout the New York metropolitan area for more than 75 years. To learn more about how our state-of-the-art IT solutions can make your company’s operations more efficient and secure, contact us.