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Laptop on standby, locked, access?


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Trying to track something down here...

Earlier this morning, my laptop was awakening spontaneously from standby without any input from me. I mean, I wasn't even in the room the first two times, I heard it beep when it came out of standby. The lid was closed, and it is set so that when you close the lid, it goes into standby and when you open the lid, it wakes up from standby. This is Windows XP SP3. I've never seen this sort of thing before where it comes out of standby seemingly spontaneously like this. Right now, in a process of working with my ISP to troubleshoot some issues related to my internet service, the laptop is currently directly connected by ethernet to the modem. During the time frame when this spontaneous coming out of standby would occur, my Outpost Free firewall was set to Rules Wizard. If I bumped it up to "Block Most", the spontaneous waking up did not occur, but if I switched back to Rules Wizard, it would. During the time as well, if I left the ethernet cable unplugged from the laptop, regardless of the settings of the firewall, the behavior did not occur. Now, however, the behavior is not occurring at all, so whatever is going on appears to have stopped. I am still unable to pin down what was causing this, but the fact that it didn't happen when the ethernet cable was unplugged leads me to believe something coming from outside may have been triggering it. This system is going to spend the afternoon getting scanned and scanned and scanned anyway.

I went to see what my son's laptop was set at (he's in school right now), and I see he has it on standby as well, which surprised me because I thought he generally powered it off during the day. He is running Vista Home Premium SP2. His laptop is locked. When you open the lid, there appears a screen there with the name of his system and it says 'locked' and one would need a password to proceed any further.

What I am wondering is if, from that state, could something from outside wake up his computer to make it do something. Also, if there were any program updates or any other sort of tasks scheduled on his system, would his system wake up and engage in those tasks despite it being locked to anyone who may open the lid? For example, when the lid is closed and his system is on standby, would it wake up and check for Windows updates even with the lid closed and laptop locked down?

And same with my XP which is not password protected coming out of standby. Can a scheduled task or something from within, some program installed on my system, wake up my system like this and make it do something?

And while I'm at it, is it possible for an outside source to power on a computer from a state of being powered off?

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Hello :)

That's a lot of questions you've got there ;). I have at least a few answers for you but I'm not sure if I can answer all of them.

  1. Scheduled Tasks can wake a PC from a sleep state, but it depends on the task's settings which can be reviewed in the Scheduled Tasks control panel
  2. Ethernet activity can indeed wake a computer from a sleep state, but this can be disabled in the Power Settings in Vista or in the Device Manager in the ethernet controller's properties (Allow this device to wake the computer)
  3. As for whether someone or something could remotely connect, thus waking the PC (see item 2 :)) and access the computer, that depends on your security and the methods/exploits they might use to do so. I'm sure there exist many means that would make this possible, although unlikely at best.
  4. Windows Updates do not wake a computer from sleep

I'm not sure if that's all of them, but it should be a good start for you :)

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Oh, thank you, that's a start. I'm a bit pressed for time at the moment, so I'll look this over later. I did check the properties of my laptop's ethernet and it was set to allow the ethernet to wake it up out of standby. I've removed the check from that box. The wireless was never set to wake up the laptop. My desktop also was never set for the ethernet to wake it up out of standby either. So at least that is settled. As far as my laptop goes, I think I have disallowed everything from checking for updates on its own, although I have a "Program Updates" thing that pops itself up every so often. There's nothing listed for it to check, but it still comes up. It has never awakened the laptop in order to run, however.

Anyway, thanks again, it never occurred to me that an ethernet device would wake up a computer. ;)

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