Why it’s best not to put your computer in Suspend mode

A Finnish research team has discovered that suspend mode could allow hackers to steal your PC's data. Here's how to defend yourself

When it comes to protecting your PC and the data inside it, one of the most frequently given pieces of advice is to encrypt your hard drive. This way, even if hackers were to manage to infiltrate our PC with a malware or a Trojan, they would have no way of accessing the files because they would be "unreadable".

According to the computer security experts at F-Sicure, a Finnish developer and one of the best known in the cybersecurity field, encryption may be less secure and "protective" than we have thought so far. Should certain conditions arise, encrypted computers are vulnerable to so-called cold boot attacks, a type of cyber attack that allows hackers to gain access to PCs and the data stored within them despite the user believing they are protected and safe.

Why not put PCs into sleep mode

As noted by F-Secure's Olle Segerdahl and Pasi Saarinen, when a computer goes into sleep mode, the data being processed at that time is stored for a few moments in RAM, including the encryption keys used to protect all the data. With a cold boot attack, a hacker may be able to steal the information in RAM and get hold of the encryption keys. Once cybercriminals have this data at their disposal, it won't take them long to break into the device and steal all the data on the hard drive.

How to Protect Yourself Against Cold Boot Attacks

According to the Finnish company's IT security experts, to defend against this type of attack, it is advisable to set a password or PIN to decrypt the disk before the operating system starts and not to leave the computer in sleep mode. If you do not use your PC, it is much better to turn it off or, at most, set it to hibernate mode. Of course, when you turn it on again, it will take a bit longer to load all the information, but at least you won't run the risk of someone stealing it.