Hacker finds critical exploit in Apple Keyboard

Posted on Sunday, Aug 02 2009 @ 23:26 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
A dangerous exploit for the Apple Keyboard was presented at DEFCON 2009, a security researcher nicknamed K. Chen demonstrated he had found a way to infect the firmware of the Apple Keyboard. The attack gives attackers complete control over your Mac and can not be fixed by formatting your hard drive because the code nestles itself in your keyboard. The hacker claims the only practical way to get rid of this infection is to throw away the infected keyboard.
Mr. Chen also explained that he had been working with Apple to come up with a solution, but that he feared Apple may be selecting the weaker fix by only blocking future revisions of Mac OS X from infecting the keyboard. This would not prevent the keyboard from being hacked by another computer running something other than the latest version of Mac OS X nor does it guarantee that a patched Mac OS X computer can’t bypass the proposed protections. The cleaner solution Mr. Chen is proposing is that Apple should simply lock the Keyboard firmware from any future modifications since the keyboard doesn’t implement any digital signature protection.

I asked Mr. Chen why Apple would leave the firmware open and he explained that Apple had a tendency to rush hardware to market which has resulted in shipped keyboards with flaws that needed firmware updates. But because the keyboards are already more mature today; perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Apple to lock in the firmware.
Full details at Digital Society.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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