Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Hacking a turned-off computer requires a few mistakes on your part. It's unlikely, but possible.
In general, can a PC with no remote software be hacked if it is powered off? The power supply, the internet cable are still connected to the PC. In my discussions with others, 50% say yes, 50% say no. An internet search was also divided in response with no agreement.
In this excerpt from Answercast #12, I walk through an unlikely scenario that could allow a turned-off computer to be hacked and show you how to prevent this from happening.
Yeah, welcome to the world of computers where there are very rarely black-and-white answers.
One of my most common phrases (that I actually get kidded about from a couple of my assistants) is "It depends." There are very rarely answers that are just yes or no. This happens to be one of them.
In general, typically, the answer is "No."
Your PC is off; it's not doing anything. Unless you've taken some extra steps, the PC will not be able to be restarted and hacked from outside if it's been turned off; even if you leave it connected to the internet and to power.
The exception to the rule (and the reason it's not a black-or-white answer) is there is a feature in the network adapter that, when enabled, allows a PC to be remotely turned on and booted. So, in a scenario like that, if the PC has been configured to respond to that request (the remote power-on and the remote boot), then the PC could be turned on remotely.
If at that point the PC did not have appropriate security software installed (say it was not behind a firewall and it did not have anti-spyware, anti-virus... the firewall being the most important part of that equation), then conceivably, it is possible that the PC could be hacked remotely from being powered off.
You'll see that this is extremely unlikely. A lot of things have to line up for it to actually happen. You have to have this remote power-on ability (Wake on LAN) turned on in the network; most computers do not.
It's something you have to turn on yourself. If you haven't turned it on; it's probably not turned on. It's a feature in the BIOS in most cases.
And... the PC has to be fundamentally insecure. In other words, it has to be vulnerable when it's running to be being hacked. That's something you can control by putting appropriate security measures into place.
So, like I said, "Sure, it's possible."
It's just extremely unlikely, and you have to make a couple of mistakes to allow it to happen.
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