If you have a laptop, what hardware components should be removed in order to prevent it from wirelessly communicating with other devices? In other words, how can I prevent a laptop from getting compromised wirelessly by an outside device?

So far the components I know to remove are the network card, antennas, WWAN card, and bluetooth device. Am I missing something or are those the only components you need to remove to achieve the said goal?

  • If you want to prevent your device from wireless communication, why don't you just disable your wifi rather than removing the cards ? – tech_enthusiast Dec 19 '18 at 0:55
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    Would also be useful to know what wireless connect-ability your laptop has. It sounds like you've covered all bases, but you could look up the model number to see if it has any other features with wireless ability. – Aide Dec 19 '18 at 4:59
  • How does a laptop get compromised wirelessly? – schroeder Dec 19 '18 at 14:46
  • The short answer is: everything that receives a wireless signal. Wifi, BT, NFC, radio, infrared. It depends on what is installed. Or you could just disable those things in your OS. – schroeder Dec 19 '18 at 14:48
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    I can answer, but before I do, are contrived (or highly situation-dependent) scenarios in-scope? For example, an already compromised computer can exfiltrate information wirelessly to special receiving devices even without a network card. The answer will be far more complex if that is in-scope. – forest Dec 20 '18 at 7:38

If your computer has Bluetooth, IR, and Wifi:

You need to remove the wifi chip. It is sometimes discrete and can just be unplugged, but more commonly these days it's hardwired on the motherboard. You'll have to track it down based on the model of your computer. Note, this is not the -network card- the Network Interface Card, or NIC, is what allows you to use the hardwired network connections.

You also need to remove the bluetooth card/chip, if it's not attached to the wifi card. If you have IR, just put tape on the optical receptor or remove it.

Most of these can be disabled from the computer itself in device manager, without damaging the computer.

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  • What about WiMax, GSM, 3G, 4G, and NFC? A laptop might have any of this. – forest Dec 20 '18 at 7:41
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    @forest yes, that is correct. Which is why I explicitly start the post with "if your computer has." They may also have Ham Radio, but the point is the basics of disabling NIC's on a laptop. Same process applies to all. – bashCypher Dec 20 '18 at 17:46

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