Possible infections in refurbished computers?

Discussion in 'other security issues & news' started by Moreudomoreuget, Jan 11, 2012.

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  1. Moreudomoreuget

    Moreudomoreuget Registered Member

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    A thought came to mind about how refurbished computers are "cleaned".

    Since this process is done in mass, I couldn't imagine each computer getting detailed care/cleaning from the retailer or manufacturer.

    Does anyone know if refurbs get a new OS installed?

    If the original OS is still there and only a simple "system restore" was done, possible infections may still linger.

    Google surprisingly didn't come up with much info on this, but perhaps I was typing in the wrong keywords.
     
  2. JRViejo

    JRViejo Global Moderator

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    Moved Thread to Proper Forum for More Exposure!
     
  3. Cudni

    Cudni Global Moderator

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    i think they simply use they own build/system image to install. nothing to do with was there before
     
  4. BrandiCandi

    BrandiCandi Guest

    It depends on what their technique was. There are disk shredder programs that will completely destroy all existing data on a drive. So then a reinstall/new install would be clean. I would think that any reputable company would thoroughly wipe the drive so that old data cannot be recovered. But that doesn't mean that everyone would actually do it that way.

    The only sure way to know is to check with the vendor & ask how they did it.
     
  5. Baserk

    Baserk Registered Member

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    At one foundation I've done some work for, a Microsoft certified refurbisher, all PC's and notebooks had their HDD's scrubbed/zero'ed with the program Blancco, the day they were received, before being reinstalled with XP.
    This certified data erase program has an option to make log files/reports, which would be sent to the donating party (often large corporations) so they would be sure the receiving party (f.i. an orphanage/primary school in Eastern Europe) would only get a PC with an initially completely scrubbed HDD and the foundation could be sure only clean PC's with a fresh XP+Office install were donated.
    Not sure if this is an actual MS requirement but that's how it was done there.
     
  6. MikeBCda

    MikeBCda Registered Member

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    Wandering slightly off-topic, I've come by experience to regard "refurbished", "overhauled", and the like to be warning flags for almost anything electronic. I'd had problems with a refurbished landline phone which had features I liked (such as an "extension in use" warning light and a nice conspicuous message-waiting indicator), and at one point all extensions on our line went dead -- fortunately I've got Bell's wiring-service plan, which covers maintenance right to the jacks rather than just to the master switch-box.

    The Bell maintenance guy, after checking, found it was due to a short in the phone. And he commented that way too many places sell refurbished phones with little or no testing ... as he put it, typically all they check is whether they can get a dial tone. That's probably true of a heck of a lot of other electronic products too.
     
  7. Moreudomoreuget

    Moreudomoreuget Registered Member

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    Thank you all for the replies. Some good points made.

    The initial thought came to mind when I found a pretty good deal on a Refurb from Best Buy's site.

    Maybe I'll contact a few places and see if they can tell me anything about how they clean up for future reference. :thumb:
     
  8. Hungry Man

    Hungry Man Registered Member

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    Even if it were refurbished and reformatted there's the chance of a bios rootkit or a bootkit. Or simply malware being added after the reformat.

    I always reformat when I get a computer though not because of this. I just feel it lets me get a fresh start on it, whereas often there's at least one or two programs that come preinstalled.
     
  9. dw426

    dw426 Registered Member

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    When I was doing warranty service a few years ago, the vast majority of refurb computers, printers, cameras and so on, were either repackaged after a customer opened the boxes and didn't like it or didn't fit their needs, or the products had very simple repairs done at the factory. Nine times out of ten, you ended up with a perfectly functional product at a heavily reduced price.

    That said, there are certain things I won't purchase refurbished. I've seen my share of lemons as well. As to the actual topic of the thread, it's certainly possible. There have been a number of cases where items like digital picture frames have been infected right out of the box. As far as computers, the refurbs I've dealt with have rarely required complete reinstalls of the OS, so who knows how many of them were infected. I would also not fall out of my chair, shocked, if we started seeing more cases of purposely infected and/or fake parts.
     
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