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When we don't use internet on windows, can windows or any Laptop vendor can access our Laptop (similar as connected to internet ). If yes, then How ?

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    Are you a casual computer user who doesn't expect to be targeted by an attacker, or are you using the computer for high value work and anticipate being targeted? – Neil Smithline Feb 22 '16 at 18:04
  • casual computer user ( a university student) – oliver Feb 22 '16 at 23:40
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Are we anonymous when not connected to internet on windows?

It really depends on a lot of factors. Generally, you should not worry, but this doesn't protect you against malware that saves what you're doing offline, and then uploads the data after you reconnect to the internet.

When we don't use internet on windows, can windows or any Laptop vendor can access our Laptop (similar as connected to internet ). If yes, then How ?

This depends. If you want to know if someone can access your windows installation, then yes, it's quite possible. And you don't even need to be using Windows. If you think a laptop vendor is going to access your computer, then I don't think that's legal - and most of them don't have this capability anyway.

However, there exists anti-theft features on some hardware which, when activated, can help allow a vendor to find where the computer is being used in the world.

If you mean, "is it possible for malicious software and devices to allow access to an air-gapped computer?", then also yes, that is possible as well. There are many methods which aid in doing so, but I'll list a couple and try to keep it short:


The Ultrasonic Malware Method

Let's say there's a trojan on your computer which sends data over the speakers, and receives it over the microphone, and you can't hear that because it's on the ultrasonic level. Yes, it's possible. It's very possible, in fact.


The Implant Method

If you're being targeted by a nation-state actor, there are cables which can help assist in spying on you. You can read more, and find example pictures in the leaked NSA ANT catalog. Notable examples include:

  1. A monitor cable that, when installed, allows what's happening on your monitor to be recorded.
  2. A hardware keylogger that monitors your keyboard's input.
  3. Implants that modify the USB connector which provide air-gap bridging support.

Some of this malware seems to be obtained through supply-chain interdiction, wherein the NSA intercepts your shipments from retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy, et al., and replaces them with hacked variants.

However, air-gap bridging malware can be installed through software exploits as well.

Of course, this is not limited to the NSA. There are very likely other countries whose intelligence agencies use the same tactics and technologies.


Further reading

If you'd like to learn more, Bruce Schneier has a good article on avoiding malware that jumps airgaps. However:

  1. His cloud-based anti-virus upload idea will not work against malware that hasn't been detected in the wild. Nation-state malware can usually get around this very easily. It's actually relatively easy to bypass anti-virus programs.
  2. His idea for using Tails is not that great. If there's a vulnerability in the tails OS, you have access to that session while it runs in memory. Qubes would be a better idea.
  3. He thinks disabling speakers and microphones is, "too paranoid for him." At the time he wrote this, I don't think he was aware of malware that exclusively uses microphones and speakers.
  • While all information is true, this is usually not what a normal, clean product of a vendor would contain. – John Feb 22 '16 at 17:28
  • True. He wanted to know if there's a way to access a computer that isn't connected to the internet. It turns out there are many different ways to do so. – Mark Buffalo Feb 22 '16 at 17:31
  • Re-read the question and I think you are right, that's what he meant. – John Feb 22 '16 at 17:33
  • @John, Mark - good conversation. After reading it, it's not clear to me what the OP is really asking. I've asked a clarifying question to figure out if they care about three letter agencies and corporate espionage or not. – Neil Smithline Feb 22 '16 at 18:07
  • Wow, that Ultrasonic Malware Method is very unexpected. – Muhammet Feb 23 '16 at 10:04
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No they cannot access your system as you have no physical connection (wired or wireless) to them.

This assumes a COTS system without hardware implant from a three letter agency.

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Usually, a normal pc/laptop of a regular person that is not watched or at least has nothing to hide from government/private agencies, will be anonymous if the plug out the cable and disable the wifi adapter in the network settings menu. if there are "reasons" that you might be one of the above, then i suggest reading the accepted answer again.

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