Is It Safe to Buy a Used PC? 5 Risks and How to Clean It Up Properly

MakeUseOf | 3/11/2019 | Simon Batt
TwiztedGurl (Posted by) Level 3
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Buying second-hand PCs is a great way to save some money. Unfortunately, they also come with their own unique set of risks you need to look out for!

Let’s look at some ways second-hand PCs can be more of a hassle than a help.

Dangers

What Are the Dangers?

With second-hand technology, the overall quality always depends on how the previous owner treated it. As such, second-hand computers could have some nasty surprises lurking within from its previous owner.

Software - Intent - Someone - Places - Computer

Sometimes, malicious software is installed with harmful intent. Someone places malware onto the computer, then sells it to someone else. If the user doesn’t realize their PC has been infected, the previous owner can harvest them for information.

Sometimes, however, people have no desire to harm you directly. Instead, they may have practiced less-than-stellar computer safety and caught some viruses. They do a very basic clean-up before selling it to you, which means the viruses they caught still dwell within.

Look - Ways - PC - Seller - Listing

Let’s look at some ways a preowned PC can come with more than advertised on the seller’s listing.

If the previous owner wants to monitor your internet browsing, they may install a keylogger to track your keyboard. This will relay everything you type back to the previous owner, including the usernames and passwords you enter into sensitive sites.

Method - Attack - PC - Users - Agents

This method of attack is very hard, if not impossible, to notice occurring while you use the PC. As such, users can unknowingly give malicious agents their login details for sensitive websites.

The owner may go a step further and install software that tracks you. They could slip in malware that takes regular screenshots of the desktop to catch something sensitive. They may also add a program that uses the built-in webcam to watch you through the day.

Keylogger - Chances - Random

This is a little more advanced than a keylogger, so the chances you’ll find a random...
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