Apple's 'PhoenixCE' diagnostic software left on customer MacBook Pro

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited June 2020
An Apple customer who bought a Certified Refurbished MacBook Pro claims to have discovered the presence of diagnostic tools on the notebook, applications used to check the MacBook is fully functional but are meant to be removed before being sold.

A refurbished MacBook Pro running PhoenixCE (via BickNlinko/Reddit)
A refurbished MacBook Pro running PhoenixCE (via BickNlinko/Reddit)


In a post to Reddit's /r/Sysadmin subreddit, user "BickNlinko" writes they had "just bought a certified refurb MacBook Pro and it came with all Apple's diagnostic stuff." As part of the post, they included a photograph of the MacBook Pro display, showing the tool along with a warning related to a network connection.

The person goes on to advise they called Apple support to alert them to it and "to see if they would freak out." After getting through to a supervisor, they were told to "boot in into the recovery mode and do a fresh install of the OS," with "BickNlinko" adding "They didn't seem to care very much.

The notebook's new owner also coyly claims "I may or may not have made images of the two disks" containing the diagnostic tools.

An AppleInsider source within Apple corporate not authorized to speak on behalf of the company said to us that "our internal diagnostic tools sometimes accidentally escape the depot. They pose no security threat to users, and are mostly useless outside of Apple testing facilities."

The last time anybody on the AppleInsider staff used or saw the "Phoenix" suite of software was several years ago. Even then, during the testing process, the software would have to connect to either a hardware dongle or data stored on a LAN -- not WAN -- to complete testing on any given model.

Eradication of the testing software is a required step prior to returning a repair to a user, and there is a specific procedure that is followed to ensure compliance. Obviously, those steps were skipped, resulting in the leak of the software.

This is not the first time Apple's diagnostic tools have surfaced in public, with forum posts occasionally cropping up querying its presence. For example, in 2012 a MacBook Air with the software wouldn't shut down because PhoenixCE continued to run and wouldn't quit.

Within the Reddit post, YouTube Apple personality and critic of Apple's repair policies Louis Rossmann asks the MacBook Pro owner if they have any services they would like performed on the machine, including cleaning and upgrades, and suggesting they get in contact. While Rossman doesn't directly explain why he offers this, it is likely an attempt to get a closer look at the software, as well as any other tools Apple may have left on the MacBook.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    It'd be a shame if something like that were to end up in Louis Rossmann's posession, absolutely terrible I might add... And just so no one accidentally visits it, I'm going to share his website address https://rossmanngroup.com
    zroger73cornchip
  • Reply 2 of 16
    jdwjdw Posts: 1,085member
    Honestly, this article is incomplete without a link to the very software we all are interested in testing out!  
    Link to it, baby!
  • Reply 3 of 16
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 435member
    Big deal. Another person who wants to be famous. Only problem is that only 10 or so nerds care. 
    StrangeDaystommikelerandominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 16
    RajkaRajka Posts: 32member
    Surely you jest, Jimh2. I'm sure many people like to have a go at Apple's in-house diagnostic software. That could save someone a trip to the Apple Store, and time is money.
  • Reply 5 of 16
    Rajka said:
    Surely you jest, Jimh2. I'm sure many people like to have a go at Apple's in-house diagnostic software. That could save someone a trip to the Apple Store, and time is money.
    I'm not familiar with that particular software. It's not what is used in Authorized Service Providers.

    Most of that diagnostic software only works in the network presence of a specific local server (hence the cable request?) or with a request through the service system (requires an authorized log in).
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 16
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,914member
    jimh2 said:
    Big deal. Another person who wants to be famous. Only problem is that only 10 or so nerds care. 

    And someone needs to teach him how to take a screen capture properly, not take a photo of his screen. How amateur!  :D


    tommikelewatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 16
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,516administrator
    mknelson said:
    Rajka said:
    Surely you jest, Jimh2. I'm sure many people like to have a go at Apple's in-house diagnostic software. That could save someone a trip to the Apple Store, and time is money.
    I'm not familiar with that particular software. It's not what is used in Authorized Service Providers.

    Most of that diagnostic software only works in the network presence of a specific local server (hence the cable request?) or with a request through the service system (requires an authorized log in).
    This isn't AASP software, this is depot-level.
    pscooter63bshankwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 16
    The only person this should matter to is the one who might lose their job because they skipped over required steps. The guy in the article and Rossman are really quite pathetic acting like they have discovered the Ark of the Covenant. Rossman is interested in nothing except advancing his own agenda.
    randominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 16
    Rajka said:
    Surely you jest, Jimh2. I'm sure many people like to have a go at Apple's in-house diagnostic software. That could save someone a trip to the Apple Store, and time is money.

    It's Apple's proprietary diagnostic software and their right to do what they want with it. If I invent something to aid a diagnostic opportunity, it's mine and not yours or Rossman's or the guy in the article. There is plenty of fine print that makes taking that software and engaging in unauthorized distribution of it illegal and subject to criminal and civil penalties. And that is exactly how it should be. The fact this is Apple and Apple products is irrelevant to matters of law and property rights. Apple's failure to remove the software does not constitute abandonment of their property. Way too much fanboism in the comments above.
    edited October 2019 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 16
    dewmedewme Posts: 4,401member
    So some guys finds a half eaten nothingburger, without cheese and without fries I might add, on his refurbished machine and thinks he stumbled upon a baby unicorn. Really, no big deal. The guy who fixed my dishwasher left a screwdriver under my counter. Maybe I’ll be posting about my find to the Bosch Dishwasher fan forum soon, or maybe not. 
    PickUrPoisonrandominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 16
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,222member
    It looks so PC.
    cornchip
  • Reply 12 of 16
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 610member
    It'd be a shame if something like that were to end up in Louis Rossmann's posession, absolutely terrible I might add... And just so no one accidentally visits it, I'm going to share his website address https://rossmanngroup.com
    That clown lies outright in a lot of his videos. It's ridiculous anybody pays attention to him.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 16
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,990member
    zimmie said:
    It'd be a shame if something like that were to end up in Louis Rossmann's posession, absolutely terrible I might add... And just so no one accidentally visits it, I'm going to share his website address https://rossmanngroup.com
    That clown lies outright in a lot of his videos. It's ridiculous anybody pays attention to him.
    Hey, I've watched countless of Louis' videos.  In the beginning, I thought he was a sketchy character, and the more I watched - particular the diagnosing of repairing components - the more I really respected the guy.  Sure, he has his bias against Apple and its entertaining, but I respect his technical ability.  I think Apple's ability to attract top technical talent to repair its computers in-house is lacking, and then again... I doubt Apple would be willing to pay for talent like Louis.   He knows his stuff.  His theatrics could use some polishing though.
    cornchip
  • Reply 14 of 16
    Rajka said:
    Surely you jest, Jimh2. I'm sure many people like to have a go at Apple's in-house diagnostic software. That could save someone a trip to the Apple Store, and time is money.
    According to the article it seems Apple’s in-house diagnostic software only works in-house.  Apple is quite aware the software slips out occasionally, and it’s not going to be any more functional outside the repair depot than they want it to be. 
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 16
    Freakinkat Freakinkat Posts: 2unconfirmed, member
    So umm raspberry pi 4+ sales went up. In other news 
    GIMME THAT FKING SOURCE CODE! I HAVE THE POWWWAAAAHHHH
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 16
    Freakinkat Freakinkat Posts: 2unconfirmed, member
    We can rebuild it, fast, stronger, more secure(but well just tell them that were "Patching things up")
    watto_cobra
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