Apple MacBoook laptops are not as secure as one might have thought, according to security researchers Xeno Kovah and Trammel Hudson. They have recently developed a virus that can infect an Apple Mac firmware, which is also called UEFI, EFI or BIOS. This firmware is the part of software that launches the operating system and boots all the components installed on it
This malware is called Thunderstrike 2 and it stands as clear proof that Apple’s computing services are not as untouchable as their creators liked to believe.
“It’s really hard to detect, it’s really hard to get rid of, and it’s really hard to protect against something that’s running inside the firmware,” said Trammel Hudson.
Once the malware is installed, the most important part of the software is affected. What is most worrying is the fact that this part of the Mac is not protected against viruses, because security products and antivirus cannot scan the firmware.
The virus then starts working and may collect very sensitive data, such as passwords, bank details, website logins and so on.
It is quite easy to have your computer infected, either through infected downloads or email attachments, websites or your Wi-Fi router.
Afterwards, the virus looks for the external devices that are connected to the computer and infects them too. Basically, it can spread to all the peripherals that are connected to the Mac.
Users will not be able to tell if their computer has been infected or not because there will be no indication of it. Reinstalling the operating system doesn’t help either, because this part of the firmware does not get erased. In other words, the only solution to this problem is to throw the Mac away.
Their findings will be presented during the Def Con and Black Hat security conferences that are taking place this week, in Las Vegas.
In2014, Xeno Kovah, who is the co-founder of LegbaCore and Hudson and also a security engineer at Two Sigma Investments, along with his firm partner managed to identify many firmware vulnerabilities that could infect computers from Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Samsung or Dell.
What they really want to prove is that the systems that the computers work on are not totally indestructible and they can do serious damage to users unless more security is provided on these devices.
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