My Computer Has Been Hacked How Do I Fix It

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My Computer Has Been Hacked How Do I Fix It – It is impossible to prove that your laptop has not been hacked. It took me two years to find out. I spent two years trying to get someone to hack my laptop so I could figure it out. Along the way, I realized that this might not happen.

Cyber ​​security professionals like myself are asked this type of question all the time: “I think my laptop might be infected with malware. Can you check?”

My Computer Has Been Hacked How Do I Fix It

My Computer Has Been Hacked How Do I Fix It

This type of question scares us because using modern computers is as complex, intelligent, and difficult to reason as modern computers – especially if someone can access your device in physical way, as is often the case with laptops, especially when you travel. Therefore, although it is possible to detect some types of pollution, it is not always so small. And even in a controlled environment, it is not possible to provide a clean and completely reliable laptop – it is always possible that it is damaged in a way that you do not think to check.

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The issue of breaching the law is particularly important for human rights workers, activists, journalists and software developers, all of whom hold sensitive data that potential attackers want. People in these jobs are often concerned about the security of their laptops while traveling – after all, laptops store sensitive information such as communications and sources, contact lists, password databases, and keys. encryption used to show the source code that you are writing. to give you access to remote servers.

How cool is it to leave your laptop in your hotel room while you’re attending a conference? If you go back and find your laptop in a different state than where you thought you left it, can you still trust it? Did someone take it away, did the hotel staff arrange the things you left on your desk, or do you have trouble remembering where you left them?

These questions are often not answered with confidence because it is difficult to detect cognitive errors. But I hope to get an idea of ​​the risks in a carefully controlled trial. For the past two years, I have used the “Honeypot” laptop whenever I travel; This computer is designed to attract (and detect) vandalism. If any hacker, state-sponsored or otherwise, wants to hack by physically attacking my computer, I want to not only catch them in the act, but also gather evidence that – show that I can learn how the attack works and, hopefully. , who is a violent person.

When I was traveling by plane, I found this laptop in my bag to make it easy for border officials, both domestic and foreign, to destroy if they wanted. When I was staying at a hotel, I left my laptop on my room table when I left for the day, to make sure that any rude housekeepers were allowed into my room, but it’s anyone else who comes into my room, feel free to move it if you want. I also put a bunch of hacking stickers all over it, hoping to make it more interesting.

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During this trial period, I traveled to Europe three times and the United States five times (including one time to Puerto Rico). I received eight different notices from the Transportation Security Administration that my bag had been searched. I have no way of knowing how many times other unkind authorities have sought it out to release me.

I have never seen anyone do anything with this laptop. But the lack of any evidence of a breach – and my vague notion of the various ways an attacker could evade detection – makes the computer forensics process difficult. If someone who makes a living protecting computers thinks they may have escaped computer disease, what hope is there for the average computer user?

At the end of my experiment, I thought about everything that could go wrong. Maybe someone messed with my honeypot laptop, and my methods for detecting this are not good enough to detect it. Or maybe the intruders noticed that the laptop I was using at the meetings was different from the one I left in my room and decided not to do it. if it is a trap.

My Computer Has Been Hacked How Do I Fix It

But the most likely reason I haven’t seen any criminals is that no one has tried to break into my laptop. Hacking into a target’s laptop, breaking into it while they’re traveling, probably happens less often because it’s more expensive – it can require travel, physical surveillance, break and enter, and risk. the life of holding or breaking the laptop is high. Compare that to cheap hacks like email phishing: you can target thousands of people right from the comfort of your office, the risk of getting caught is minimal.

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Still, I believe that checking the device carefully for damage is worthwhile. You wouldn’t catch an attacker red-handed if you didn’t want evidence of their attack. And just looking for evidence, even if you can’t find anything, adds a cost to the attackers: if they want to make sure that you won’t find out, they will get more. I found it helpful to explain the technology and process I created to detect damage and share what I learned from the experience. Doing this gives you an idea of ​​how many ways you can damage the laptop.

If you do not use full disk encryption on your laptop, anyone who has access to it, even for a few minutes, can access all your data and even install malware on your computer to spy on you in the future. It doesn’t matter how good your password is, because without encryption, an attacker can wipe your laptop case, remove the hard disk, and access it from another computer.

Disk Encryption does a great job of protecting your data if you lose your laptop or someone steals it from you. When the person tries to access your data, it will be completely locked, as long as the password you use to unlock your laptop is strong enough that they cannot guess.

But there is one sneaky attack called “feminism” that attacks and privacy alone cannot protect. A bad girl attack works like this: an attacker (like a hotel receptionist, for example) gets temporary access to your encrypted laptop. Although they can’t hack your data, they can hack your laptop in minutes and leave it right where they found it. When you go back and enter your credentials, you are now under attack.

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Exactly how a female attack will work against your laptop depends on many factors: the type of computer you are using, the type of operating system you are using, what disk encryption software you are using, and the firmware configuration your computer is loaded with. , firmware that I’ll call “BIOS”, although it can be used with abbreviations such as EFI and UEFI. Some computers have better technology to prevent attacks from malicious servers than others – for example, attackers need to make more advanced changes to hack Windows BitLocker encryption than they do to hack A FileVault-encrypted Mac laptop (as of now, anyway. ) or a LUKS-encrypted Linux laptop.

The laptop honeypot I used, has a red box around the hard drive and the SPI chip that stores the BIOS firmware.

An attacker can modify the data on your hard drive. “Full disk encryption,” a term that generally refers to systems like FileVault, should be called “full disk encryption” because, except in a few specific cases, -usually a small part of the computer disk and that’s it. not hidden.

My Computer Has Been Hacked How Do I Fix It

When you turn on the laptop, before opening the disk, the computer loads the program from the hidden part of the disk; then it runs the program and the program prompts you to enter your password. The program converts your password to a private key and tries to unlock the disk with it. If you enter the correct password, the disk is unlocked and the rest of the operating system (stored in the hidden part of the disk) is loaded. If you don’t know the correct password, there is no way to unlock the disk.

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But because the program that asks for your password is not encrypted, it is possible for an attacker who has physical access to your laptop to replace it with a malicious version that looks like a user but requires a system again. For example, after you open your hard drive, it can copy malware to it which, when your computer boots up, runs automatically in the background, monitoring what you do.

Computers that support “secure boot” or “secured boot”, such as Chromebooks and Windows laptops with BitLocker,

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