Can Malware Work Without Internet

Cybersecurity isn’t limited to major corporations. Anyone who uses the internet needs to be aware of security risks. But what if you go offline? Are you still at risk of ransomware attacks? Can your personal information be stolen or your device damaged when you’re offline? 

There’s lots of confusion about the efficacy of malware when you’re not connected to the internet. Most of us want to know whether malware works without internet access and, if it works, how is this possible?

Does Malware Work Without Internet?

Yes. Malware works without internet access. Many people believe that if they disconnect from wifi or turn off mobile data, they’re safe from what’s powering malware — the internet. But the internet doesn’t power malware. And contrary to popular thinking, most malware is developed to work without the internet.

Going offline, however, can help dampen the efficacy of malware. 

For example, for malware to transmit your data to a nefarious source, it needs to have internet.

So, while you may have malware on your device, it won’t be as dangerous if you never go online because your information can’t be transmitted. 

But, internet access isn’t the only way to transfer data. Hackers may require more effort, but your data can still be transferred over short distances via Bluetooth. 

Can You Get Malware Without Internet?

Malware isn’t only transmitted through the internet. That’s because malware is an umbrella term that includes viruses, ransomware, spyware, adware, Trojans, worms, rootkits, bots, and keyloggers. Therefore, whether it works will depend on the type of malware program.


A virus is a self-replicating malware that requires a user to take some type of action that activates it. Once on the device, it attaches itself to various programs and destroys data.

Verdict: A virus can infect your device without internet access.


Ransomware is a type of software that encrypts your data and blocks access to it until you pay a ransom.

Verdict: Ransomware can be downloaded without internet access.


Spyware invades your device in an attempt to steal data like your banking data, passwords, and other sensitive information. It can also access your webcam and microphone.

Verdict: Spyware does not work without internet access.


Collects personal data to show you personalized on your screen.

Verdict: Adware does not work without internet access.


A Trojan horse disguises itself as legitimate software in an attempt to get you to download malicious software onto your device.

Verdict: You can get a Trojan without accessing the internet, but it will likely be through a USB, CD, or other connection.


A worm infects multiple devices on the same network by replicating itself, consuming bandwidth, and interrupting the network.

Verdict: A worm does not spread without internet access.


Rootkits give third parties access to your files and data without you recognizing it.

Verdict: A rootkit cannot work without internet access.


Bots are developed to perform repeatable functions. When they infiltrate a computer, they multiply, often turning the device into a zombie able to be controlled remotely through the main console.

Verdict: Bots don’t work without internet access.


A keylogger tracks and transmits your keystrokes to give an unauthorized third-party access to your accounts with login credentials gathered through logging your keystrokes.

Verdict: Keyloggers don’t work without internet access.

Can Ransomware Work Without Internet?

Unfortunately, yes.

If you haven’t already experienced ransomware, you’ve probably heard of someone who has had their life — and finances — wrecked by ransomware.

Ransomware is extremely pervasive because it encrypts your data, locking you out, and then gives specific instructions on how to recover the data.

All of this — the encryption, lockout, and instructions — can be done without an internet connection. This is known as offline ransomware, and the scripts used to infiltrate your device are sold to ordinary individuals on the dark web.

In most cases, to regain access to your data by performing the instructions, you’ll need access to the internet.

However, it’s easier to avoid getting ransomware on your device without internet access as you’ll have to DO something to fall victim. 

For example, you’d have to plug a USB into your device for the ransomware to activate. 

Of course, if your device was once connected to the internet and downloaded a file, if that file contains ransomware and you open it — whether or not you’re connected to the internet — the ransomware can still take hold.

Does Malware Use Internet?

Yes and No. 

Malware can be transmitted and efficacious without internet access. But certain types of malware need the internet to be transmitted and efficacious.


Viruses, trojans, and, in some cases, even ransomware can be transmitted without internet access. But, they’ll require you to act, whether that means inserting a USB into your device or opening a suspicious file. They don’t need the internet to work. This is also why most people know about these types of cyber threats because they have been wreaking havoc on computers long before internet access became the norm.


For malware that requires a third party to get remote access to your device, disconnecting from the internet blocks the efficacy of such apps, essentially preventing your device from being accessed remotely.

Can Malware Work When Computer is Off?

If your computer is powered off, malware can’t be transmitted or efficacious. But your PC should be off and not sleeping for that to be true.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, like most things that have to do with malware.

If malware has invaded your PC to an extent where your operating system is doing its bidding, then it can use an “automatic wake-up” setting that exists on Windows 10 to turn your PC on and continue operating.

But the likelihood of that happening, especially since more PCs are equipped with basic security features.

Keeping yourself safe online is far more challenging than before, as there are threats everywhere.

Unfortunately, those threats don’t vanish when you go offline.

Yes, you can stop spyware or adware from being effective by disconnecting from the wifi or turning off mobile data, but once you reconnect to the internet, the malware, like other apps that require internet, is back online.

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