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I had a laptop offline. Hasn't been online for months. I booted it up, only to find my password didn't work. Couldn't log on. Then I noticed my laptop Wifi switch was on. (The laptop was bought in 2011 and is a Compaq and has a key that doubles as a function key, which has a green light if the Wifi is switched on and a red if it isn't. It was green. I must have accidentally hit that key sometime back and didn't notice.) There are many apartments here that use Wifi. My other PC that is sometimes online (but never using Wifi but a phone line) sees the other users and their names. Could someone sitting in their apartment using Wifi have seen my computer and have hacked my password and reset it so I can't log on? If so, what information could they have stolen from my laptop, if any? Could they have stolen files and documents?

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    Couple of question here: 1) Are you sure that you remember the exact login password? 2) Who else has access to the laptop, any chances they changed the password? What you fear above, is theoretically possible, but improbable. – pri May 26 '17 at 12:17
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    1) What is the message you are getting? Is it possible the user and/or password has expired? 2) Are you connected to a domain or is this purely a local accounts computer? If its domain the computer could have expired off the network and needs to be re-added. As the above poster says I think its very unlikely to have been hacked – ISMSDEV May 26 '17 at 12:18
  • By offline, are you saying that the machine has been turned on, but not connected to the network? Or are you saying that it hasn't even been turned on? Your "I booted it up" comment makes it sound like the machine has been turned off the whole time. – user52472 May 26 '17 at 19:24
  • By "offline", I mean I've not had the laptop hooked up to the internet for many weeks. I work with it offline. It's not connected to any modem at all. By"booting it up" I simply mean turning the laptop on, while still unconnected to the Internet. The password is correct and is the same one I always used successfully up until it quit working the other day. – Tyrannosaurus B May 28 '17 at 12:30
  • I am just getting a message that the password is incorrect. That is all. – Tyrannosaurus B May 28 '17 at 12:31
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With the limited details, the best answer is "probably not," though it is possible.

As a number of the commentators have said, first questions are: are you sure you have the correct password, have you checked if the caps lock key is on, does anyone else have physical access to the computer who might have changed it?

All of these scenarios are much more likely.

In answer to your second question, if you were hacked via wifi, to the extent the attacker could change your password, then best to assume they could have gotten anything off your computer which your account had access to, including files and documents.

  • But, JesseM, if I my laptop is not hooked up to a Wifi, could a neighbor, using his own Wifi, find my computer (via his WiFi) and hack in? – Tyrannosaurus B May 28 '17 at 12:33
  • Caps are not locked. – Tyrannosaurus B May 28 '17 at 12:41
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    @TyrannosaurusB If your computer's wifi is not enabled then it's extremely unlikely that they could get remote access. Not impossible, but definitely not something that your neighbor is going to manage. – David Jun 26 '17 at 4:07
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I had a laptop offline. Hasn't been online for months. I booted it up...

Assuming your laptop is running Windows you would need to actively connect to a WiFi network while logged in. Since you are unable to do so the OS has no way of connecting to a wireless network.

The WiFi indicator (the green light) shows that the laptop has wireless networking enabled. This does not mean that the laptop is connected to WiFi.

Could someone sitting in their apartment using Wifi have seen my computer and have hacked my password and reset it so I can't log on?

No. If your laptop is offline or switched off it cannot interact with other computers wirelessly.

In regards to the enable wireless communication button.

I must have accidentally hit that key sometime back and didn't notice.

You would still need to connect to a wireless network for somebody to hack your laptop.

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