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I'm trying to create a secure setup on my new Windows 8 laptop to help keep a serious thief away from my data. An SSD with 256-bit hardware encryption provides a solid security foundation. But if a thief were to get my laptop with the lid closed it will be in sleep mode. When coming out of sleep, Windows 8 is at the login screen. There are many free and paid software that run from a USB stick or CD/DVD that can retreive or reset a Windows 8 password. I'd like to know, can a thief can run or load a program from a USB stick or DVD/CD from the Windows 8 login screen to get my Windows 8 password, whereby they could then log on and grab my data. This could be done if Windows 8 allows access to the CMD prompt from the login screen.
Thank you

  • The type of attack you are worried about is not possible on Windows. While a computer is locked there have always been protections against this. Those free programs only work if you can boot outside of Windows which won't be possible since your system drive will be encrypted. Of course it would be trivial to boot to a Windows installation disk and just reinstall Windows. – Ramhound May 19 '15 at 11:11
  • It's worth noting that, with @Ramhound 's last statement, even if they reinstall windows they will not be able to access your encrypted old data. It would just be a fresh install. – Abraxas May 19 '15 at 20:23
  • @Abraxas - Anyone that is stealing a device, isn't really interested in the data, a person interested in the data isn't worried about keeping the device. – Ramhound May 28 '15 at 1:17
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While it is certainly possible to retrieve the unencrypted memory from a laptop that has been in sleep, it isn't trivial.

So unless you are worried about nation-state level attacks, you can be pretty certain your data is safe from an attack when you are not present.

That statement is, however, dependent on you having a strong pass-phrase and also that you are not relying on a laptop fingerprint scanner.

A much simpler attack is to beat your password out of you so you might be better investing in personal safety rather than just electronic safety!

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