The first thing I do after buying or building a computer is to set up security software. There are three essential security software that I install: An antivirus software, a spyware software, and a firewall software. No other program gets installed on my machine after the operating system until these security software are up and running. Period.
I religiously followed this routine of installing security software first before anything else on my own systems since I built all of them myself (aside from my notebook). However, when Dee bought her laptop, it came with a lot of stuff already preinstalled! So, what I did was uninstall everything including all the manufacturer’s own computer system management and security software. Sorry, Acer. When only Vista and some signed drivers were left, only then did I install my set of security software. (Sorry, Dee, those stickers look good but security software first, then Firefox, then PSPad, before those lovely stars and cute smileys get pasted on the thing. lol)
Why install security software first? For one, that’s what I’ve learned; and recently, I found out the consequence of not installing security software first (or early in the program setup link). I could probably have installed the security software without deleting stuff like I did above but there are dangers in doing so—specially if the machine is old and has a lot of programs already. Take for instance this other computer in our network. It has been browsing and downloading lots of stuff already when I inherited it. And it already had a virus.
I installed my security software triangle and plugged it into the network. Nothing was detected. I only became aware of the existence of the virus later after observing that the network is slowing down, unaccountable usage of system resources, connection attempts to my computer from another within the network, and other signs (including, maybe, a sensation of a disturbance in the Force. ;) )
It seems that since the virus was there first, it sort of placed a blindfold on the security software when they were installed so that nothing would be detected. It also prevented the security software from updating its signature database to further ensure the invisibility of the malware. After replacing the antivirus part, the malware was detected but it still can’t be removed. I ended up manually searching and removing the virus and all its instances scattered around the system. It was excruciatingly painful. Had the security software been there first, the malware won’t even have the chance to take root.
If possible, always install security software first. Windows’ built-in firewall software seems to be okay but I heard that there are better alternative firewall software out there for free. After that, go grab an antivirus software and a spyware software and be safe.