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  • Who Would Have Thought that MacBook Batteries were Vulnerable to Hacking?


    In what can probably be called the most lackluster hacking threat imaginable, it would appear that Apple MacBook batteries are susceptible to hacking. According to a new Forbes report, the fault lies with the battery control chips. Apparently they are vulnerable to attack and can leave a MacBook bricked or worse.

    According to Forbes, security expert Charlie Miller who first discovered the vulnerability states, “The batteries’ chips are shipped with default passwords, such that anyone who discovers that password and learns to control the chips’ firmware can potentially hijack them to do anything the hacker wants. That includes permanently ruining batteries at will, and may enable nastier tricks like implanting them with hidden malware that infects the computer no matter how many times software is reinstalled or even potentially causing the batteries to heat up, catch fire or explode.”

    Apparently, Mr. Miller discovered two distinct passwords after going over a 2009 MacBook battery software update. “Using those keys, he was soon able to reverse engineer the chip’s firmware and cause it to give whatever readings he wanted to the operating system and charger, or even rewrite the firmware completely to do his bidding.” After that Miller could manipulate the battery functions at will.

    It may seem like a trivial point of attack, but by going after the battery control chip, a skilled hacker could potentially install all kinds of malware and it would be incredibly difficult to delete.

    According to Miller, “You could put a whole hard drive in, reinstall the software, flash the BIOS, and every time it would reattack and screw you over. There would be no way to eradicate or detect it other than removing the battery.”

    Miller plans on exposing this potentially devastating threat at this year’s Black Hat security conference in August. He is also expected to demonstrate a potential fix for the problem. Hopefully, Apple will issue an update soon after to protect MacBook users from malicious battery hacks.

    Source: Forbes
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Who Would Have Thought that MacBook Batteries were Vulnerable to Hacking? started by Wiley John Wright View original post
    Comments 21 Comments
    1. kickerman65's Avatar
      kickerman65 -
      Wow! And who says macs are safer?
    1. maximvd's Avatar
      maximvd -
      they say its possible to make the battery explode
      source: Google Vertaling
    1. cookbenj's Avatar
      cookbenj -
      Quote Originally Posted by kickerman65 View Post
      Wow! And who says macs are safer?
      wow, what a sly comment, macs ARE much safer than pc's my pc caught bloody fire, so then i bought a mac and i've had it 2 times longer than a pc and its never caught fire, just because the mac's batteries can be hacked, doesn't mean they've hacked every battery already, unlike pc when i had mine it was always catching viruses and then plus another antivirus software which crashed your computer every time you run it.

      I SAY MACS ARE SAFER BECAUSE THEY ARE
    1. silentassassin12's Avatar
      silentassassin12 -
      Quote Originally Posted by cookbenj View Post
      wow, what a sly comment, macs ARE much safer than pc's my pc caught bloody fire, so then i bought a mac and i've had it 2 times longer than a pc and its never caught fire, just because the mac's batteries can be hacked, doesn't mean they've hacked every battery already, unlike pc when i had mine it was always catching viruses and then plus another antivirus software which crashed your computer every time you run it.

      I SAY MACS ARE SAFER BECAUSE THEY ARE
      you either have really bad computer savvy or your just an apple fanboy..
    1. starfuryt550's Avatar
      starfuryt550 -
      the comments on this are epic.
    1. ikesmasher's Avatar
      ikesmasher -
      Using this could allow a hacker to quite literally blow up the macbook.
    1. bdwayneh's Avatar
      bdwayneh -
      All I know is my macbook makes a better bomb then a pc. All the metal makes it a good size pipe bomb
    1. fbiryujin's Avatar
      fbiryujin -
      Quote Originally Posted by silentassassin12 View Post
      you either have really bad computer savvy or your just an apple fanboy..
      I also think Macs are safer. I am far from an "Apple fanboy" for two reasons. The first being that I don't become a fanboy for any company. The second being that I am a long time Windows active directory, and Linux administrator. I know both of these operating systems better than I will ever know OS X. I do use OS X as my personal OS though because it is safer. It's safer due to the fact that the market share is Windows. Therefore Windows get's targeted more often then not for virus/spyware design, and hacks. OS X is inherently safer due to "security through obscurity." It also is based on Unix which helps a lot.

      Oh yeah, and I'm probably tech savvy since I manage a data center for a large organization.

      (No sarcasm, or rude tones are intended. I'm just poor at conveying feelings over written text :P)
    1. RICO_'s Avatar
      RICO_ -
      And the ultimate fallout from this......computers will no longer be allowed on airplanes.

      Quote Originally Posted by cookbenj View Post
      wow, what a sly comment, macs ARE much safer than pc's my pc caught bloody fire, so then i bought a mac and i've had it 2 times longer than a pc and its never caught fire, just because the mac's batteries can be hacked, doesn't mean they've hacked every battery already, unlike pc when i had mine it was always catching viruses and then plus another antivirus software which crashed your computer every time you run it.

      I SAY MACS ARE SAFER BECAUSE THEY ARE
      They are safer for now....but not because they can't get viruses or malware....but because there is nothing really coded or written to affect Macs.....yet. I don't know if it's because they are harder to create viruses for or if it's because there are so many more Windows PCs out there than Macs, but I'm pretty sure that hackers will attempt to attack Macs more and more in the future as they become exponentially more popular.
    1. teej1410's Avatar
      teej1410 -
      wow. maybe I should use AA batteries from now on.
    1. Hosko817's Avatar
      Hosko817 -
      Miller plans on exposing this potentially devastating threat at this year’s Black Hat security conference in August. He is also expected to demonstrate a potential fix for the problem.
      Why not just reveal the fix now? why wait till a conference? Not that I care, just sayin.
    1. cookbenj's Avatar
      cookbenj -
      Quote Originally Posted by silentassassin12 View Post
      you either have really bad computer savvy or your just an apple fanboy..
      haha, it must of been a really bad pc, call me what you want, i dont mind, at least my mac aint caught fire like my pc :P
    1. dhamien's Avatar
      dhamien -
      Quote Originally Posted by RICO_ View Post
      And the ultimate fallout from this......computers will no longer be allowed on airplanes.



      They are safer for now....but not because they can't get viruses or malware....but because there is nothing really coded or written to affect Macs.....yet. I don't know if it's because they are harder to create viruses for or if it's because there are so many more Windows PCs out there than Macs, but I'm pretty sure that hackers will attempt to attack Macs more and more in the future as they become exponentially more popular.
      I used to have the same opinion that the reason that macs didn't have any viruses was simply because no one bothered to write them since Apple was so small in the computer world, but as I see it now, that can't really be the case anymore. These past few years, mac comps have become the 'thing to have' and I see people with them everywhere. I do believe that since the OS is based on unix (or similar) it does have better security by nature.

      I'm not saying no viruses will come though, just that I believe that they're a lot harder to make.
    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      In what can probably be called the most lackluster hacking threat imaginable, it would appear that Apple MacBook batteries are susceptible to hacking. According to a new Forbes report, the fault lies with the battery control chips. Apparently they are vulnerable to attack and can leave a MacBook bricked or worse.
      This hack can leave a macbook bricked. How on earth is that considered lackluster?
    1. silentassassin12's Avatar
      silentassassin12 -
      Quote Originally Posted by fbiryujin View Post
      I also think Macs are safer. I am far from an "Apple fanboy" for two reasons. The first being that I don't become a fanboy for any company. The second being that I am a long time Windows active directory, and Linux administrator. I know both of these operating systems better than I will ever know OS X. I do use OS X as my personal OS though because it is safer. It's safer due to the fact that the market share is Windows. Therefore Windows get's targeted more often then not for virus/spyware design, and hacks. OS X is inherently safer due to "security through obscurity." It also is based on Unix which helps a lot.

      Oh yeah, and I'm probably tech savvy since I manage a data center for a large organization.

      (No sarcasm, or rude tones are intended. I'm just poor at conveying feelings over written text :P)
      your right about how windows has more market share so that = more reason its a target for viruses but with a little knowledge about what kind of stuff you click on or the sites you go to you can easily keep your pc relatively clean. only time i get a virus(and its usually one i can easily remove) is when im desperate to find something and i go past page 5 in google lol...i was mostly referring to the guy i quoted as being a fanboy because his post was a little ridiculous.
    1. jwil736's Avatar
      jwil736 -
      Quote Originally Posted by cookbenj View Post
      wow, what a sly comment, macs ARE much safer than pc's my pc caught bloody fire, so then i bought a mac and i've had it 2 times longer than a pc and its never caught fire, just because the mac's batteries can be hacked, doesn't mean they've hacked every battery already, unlike pc when i had mine it was always catching viruses and then plus another antivirus software which crashed your computer every time you run it.

      I SAY MACS ARE SAFER BECAUSE THEY ARE
      The fire could be from overheating, the overheating could be from not cleaning it out (taking the shell off the tower and getting dust out). You were always catching viruses because YOU have no idea when your downloading the legit free file or ripped version you wanted OR clicked on too many of those pop ups and do not know how to get rid of the CRAP they put on your computer.

      My guess is if this isnt the case for you, then it was definitely the case for whoever was using your computer. Either way, you didn't do what you needed to to keep up your computer.

      Just my 2 cents.
    1. Cer0's Avatar
      Cer0 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Hosko817 View Post
      Why not just reveal the fix now? why wait till a conference? Not that I care, just sayin.
      By reveling a fix he may also reveal exactly how he is doing it. He doesn't want the full details out there yet. He sent all his research to Apple weeks ago for them to fix before he goes on stage at the Black Hat convention.
    1. delusion950's Avatar
      delusion950 -
      out of all the damn components theyre hacking the battery. is this *** or what?
    1. jasvncnt10's Avatar
      jasvncnt10 -
      Quote Originally Posted by silentassassin12 View Post
      your right about how windows has more market share so that = more reason its a target for viruses but with a little knowledge about what kind of stuff you click on or the sites you go to you can easily keep your pc relatively clean. only time i get a virus(and its usually one i can easily remove) is when im desperate to find something and i go past page 5 in google lol...i was mostly referring to the guy i quoted as being a fanboy because his post was a little ridiculous.
      Thank-you!!

      Quote Originally Posted by jwil736 View Post
      The fire could be from overheating, the overheating could be from not cleaning it out (taking the shell off the tower and getting dust out). You were always catching viruses because YOU have no idea when your downloading the legit free file or ripped version you wanted OR clicked on too many of those pop ups and do not know how to get rid of the CRAP they put on your computer.

      My guess is if this isnt the case for you, then it was definitely the case for whoever was using your computer. Either way, you didn't do what you needed to to keep up your computer.

      Just my 2 cents.
      And Thank you also!

      Quote Originally Posted by cookbenj View Post
      wow, what a sly comment, macs ARE much safer than pc's my pc caught bloody fire, so then i bought a mac and i've had it 2 times longer than a pc and its never caught fire, just because the mac's batteries can be hacked, doesn't mean they've hacked every battery already, unlike pc when i had mine it was always catching viruses and then plus another antivirus software which crashed your computer every time you run it.

      I SAY MACS ARE SAFER BECAUSE THEY ARE
      MACS may be "safer" in regards to virus. But I think your stretching it a bit with the whole fire thing. So you had one bad experience. So using your example....a Windows phone is much safer then an Iphone since there were some iphones that exploded?
    1. cookbenj's Avatar
      cookbenj -
      Quote Originally Posted by jwil736 View Post
      The fire could be from overheating, the overheating could be from not cleaning it out (taking the shell off the tower and getting dust out). You were always catching viruses because YOU have no idea when your downloading the legit free file or ripped version you wanted OR clicked on too many of those pop ups and do not know how to get rid of the CRAP they put on your computer.

      My guess is if this isnt the case for you, then it was definitely the case for whoever was using your computer. Either way, you didn't do what you needed to to keep up your computer.

      Just my 2 cents.
      funny you should mention that, take off the shell etc... blah blah blah, i actually have done that and correctly put it back together. You seem to know me soo well from that one comment i put down, you make me sound like a complete idiot, i was always extremely careful with what i downloaded, i am not stupid enough to click on adverts, and i had £40 a year antivirus software one of the best out, and plus i don't illegally download software onto my pc, i was just clearly stating a point that macs are still safer, and from my own experience much better than a pc, i guess i just wasnt lucky with PC's but i do know what i do with them, i did my best to keep my pc laptop to good condition.
      Your guess is wrong mate i'd love to know why it caught fire i was caught off-guard by it nothing to do with my own stupidity.

      Quote Originally Posted by jasvncnt10 View Post
      MACS may be "safer" in regards to virus. But I think your stretching it a bit with the whole fire thing. So you had one bad experience. So using your example....a Windows phone is much safer then an Iphone since there were some iphones that exploded?
      Honestly i'm not stretching it :/ nearly started a house fire :S was absolutely bricking it.
      About the iphone exploding situation your perfectly right i didn't find out about exploding iphones until after i bought it, but i've been careful with it like having breaks between playing apps so it doesn't overheat, but if i knew before i would of got a blackberry or an android