My Thinkpad might have been hacked and I know this sounds a little far-fetched, but I suspect the BIOS might have also been hacked.

Would turning it off by holding the power button for a few seconds ensure that it could not turn itself back on again without someone pressing the power button again?

  • AFAIK a PC can turn itself on even without a modified BIOS. – Thomas Weller Jul 12 '16 at 6:05
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    Before jumping into any conclusion, why do you believe it has been hacked? You question could turn into: "Why my computer turns itself on?" – lepe Jul 12 '16 at 6:55
  • It will depend on the computer and the BIOS. Some computers won't be able to turn on, others will. – schroeder Jul 12 '16 at 7:39
  • It might be just a simple power failure in the power supply or in the batteries. If the BIOS is then set to POWER ON after power failure, you might get that behaviour. Check the BIOS. – John K. N. Jul 12 '16 at 7:54
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    If it's in sleep mode it can turn on in many ways like in the middle of night. Depends what Thinkpad it is, the newer it is, the more likely. However, if it's completely switched off then it can switch on by various wake-on mechanisms via LAN, WIFI etc. – Aria Jul 12 '16 at 11:24

Hard power-off of a Windows machine will ensure that wake-on-lan isn't functional, but there are two possible combinations of bios settings that can lead to machine waking up without power button press:

  1. Restore on power failure: Always on\Previous state I am not entirely sure that powering off via holding power button will account for power loss though. If so, machine would power itself back up straigh away within a second or two. In the scenario when a machine has Always on setting and is powered off, disconnecting and reconnecting the power will make the machine power on. I haven't seen this particular setting on laptops, as they have battaries, which is an internal UPS in essense, so these conditions only apply when the battery is dead.
  2. Wake up on Real Time Clock This one would just schedule power on and wake the machine regardless of other software settings.

Summing up suggestions from comments: any random power-ups with consequent shutdowns are likely a hibernation after sleep. Imagine sleep timer is set to 10 minutes of inactivity, second timer hibernates after 300 minutes. If you leave your laptop at 22:00 at 22:10 it will fall asleep, at 03:00 it will wake up, dump RAM onto the drive and power off, which might take a few seconds to few minutes, but the machine will spin up the fans and flash all its activity LEDs as it is under considerable load copying data.

  • Would it necessarily have to turn on any lights (e.g., the green light on the power button) or could it turn on without any giveaways other than the fan spinning? – user117279 Jul 13 '16 at 13:43
  • Usual standard lights are on, the only thing different - monitor doesn't wake up for this period, at least on modern pc and os. – Grigory Sergeev Jul 13 '16 at 13:51

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