PC buyers beware

Be careful of computer salesmen bearing gifts. That may not be the most famous proverb, but it is the warning from anti-virus company Sophos which is telling users to exercise caution when setting up new PCs they received as presents over the holiday season.

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By  Peter Branton Published  December 18, 2003

Be careful of computer salesmen bearing gifts. That may not be the most famous proverb, but it is the warning from anti-virus company Sophos which is telling users to exercise caution when setting up new PCs they received as presents over the holiday season.

This region, like other places in the world, will see increased sales of PCs in the holiday season, but many of those machines may well have been assembled several months previously - and will feature out-of-date security patches and anti-virus software.

"The latest PC or snazzy laptop will be at the top of many people's Christmas list this year," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "There's an assumption that a computer straight off the shelf will be ready to go, but I've seen people have to download a staggering 38MB of security patches on to a brand-new PC, that can take from dusk 'til dawn via a modem. The first job after unwrapping a PC should be to make sure that the system is properly protected - applying appropriate patches to the operating system, installing a personal firewall and updating anti-virus software - or users could get more than they bargained for."

The last few months have seen enormous virus levels globally, with more than 700 new viruses discovered in November alone, so it is undoubtedly true that older machines will not have the most up-to-date security.

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