Apple's T2 chip has an unfixable vulnerability that could allow root access

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  • Reply 41 of 58
    neilmneilm Posts: 957member
    It’s long been a computer security axiom that any device to which someone can gain physical access must be considered insecure. It’s then simply a question of what level of resources have to be deployed to exploit it.

    In practical terms this particular insecurity is very unlikely to affect most people. It may be real — but not real likely.
    adyblkruppronndocno42cgWerkswatto_cobraentropys
  • Reply 42 of 58
    jingo said:
    @Svanstrom - your frankly hysterical post gets things totally out of proportion. Do you REALLY, seriously, think that some "moron with a knife" will read about an Apple vulnerability and then decide to target you? You have some serious issues, man. Come on, get some sense of proportion!
    Are you really so damn egocentric that you think that everything in the world that happens to you means that you specifically was targeted? There's no room at all in your worldview that if certain crimes happen more frequently, then you might become a very randomly picked victim of such crimes?
    FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 43 of 58
    johnbearjohnbear Posts: 160member
    Ummmm....ok. So we all have devices that are insecure if left unattended or lost? Is this going to get swept under the rug, or will there be some sort of action by Apple to remedy?????
    Gotta upgrade to a bee Mac with a new and improved T3 chip
    cgWerks
  • Reply 44 of 58
    neilm said:
    It’s long been a computer security axiom that any device to which someone can gain physical access must be considered insecure. It’s then simply a question of what level of resources have to be deployed to exploit it.

    In practical terms this particular insecurity is very unlikely to affect most people. It may be real — but not real likely.
    The interesting point that some here is missing is that this exploit cannot be used by someone who steals your laptop to access your encrypted hard drive (or your encrypted passwords--I think).  The article says that a bad guy could (theoretically) hack your systems to later capture your keystrokes and therefore learn your password, thereby compromising everything you've encrypted.  But that's not a "bad guy stealing your laptop and getting your secrets."  That's "a bad guy stealing your laptop, hacking it, giving it back to you, you using it as-is, him getting your password, etc."  And in this scenario if he wanted what was actually on your hard drive, he'd have to steal your laptop again.  So this isn't an issue for random thieves.  It's a problem for environment where bad guys have repeated access to your hardware.  It would likely be easier for them to steal passwords with a camera, frankly.

    Having said all that, this is an alarming security flaw and Apple's alleged silence for weeks isn't a great look. Hopefully they are working hard on a solution for this "unfixable" problem and will speak to it soon.
    igorskydocno42macplusplusronntenthousandthingswatto_cobratht
  • Reply 45 of 58
    It is almost like someone created the T2 chip to give governments access to private Macintosh computers. Go in, swap a cable and you are done. Nice!
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 46 of 58
    I hate that chip, but it theory I’m not sure that this issue is more serious than someone trying to pick a lock on a security door that is protecting another locked door. Sure it’s an issue in theory, but practically it’s fluff for thriller movies. The odds of someone stealing your portable to hack into it to get your files is pretty low, at least here in the US it is. The thief wants to sell your computer quickly and will hope you don’t have activation lock or firmware lock on. If you do, they might be able to sell it to an idiot who doesn’t check those things before buying it. Those are people who don’t believe that if things are too good to be true, they probably aren’t. 

    Getting your data is a lot easier by hacking online retailers or physical stores with crappy network security. 

    Thieves will only work real hard to get your stuff if there is a big money payoff. Otherwise credit card fraud is easier and more abundant. 
    docno42watto_cobra
  • Reply 47 of 58
    Wow, a lot of stupid posts. This isn't anywhere nearly as bad as people assume.

    - It requires unattended physical access to your Mac.
    - You have to connect a USB-C cable/device and then reboot the Mac before it works. Simply plugging a malicious USB-C cable or thumb drive into your Mac won't do anything.
    - It lacks persistence. As soon as your Mac is powered off or rebooted the system reverts back to it's original state.
    - It doesn't grant access to your Mac. It doesn't get your passwords or logins and so it can't read the contents of your hard drive or actually get past the login screen of your Mac.

    This is the same as the jailbreak exploits that were supposed to spell doom & gloom for iOS security, but never materialized into anything other than a tethered jailbreak for people to try on their own devices.
    docno42macplusplusronntenthousandthingswatto_cobra
  • Reply 48 of 58
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,424member
    Wow, a lot of stupid posts. This isn't anywhere nearly as bad as people assume.

    - It requires unattended physical access to your Mac.
    - You have to connect a USB-C cable/device and then reboot the Mac before it works. Simply plugging a malicious USB-C cable or thumb drive into your Mac won't do anything.
    - It lacks persistence. As soon as your Mac is powered off or rebooted the system reverts back to it's original state.
    - It doesn't grant access to your Mac. It doesn't get your passwords or logins and so it can't read the contents of your hard drive or actually get past the login screen of your Mac.

    This is the same as the jailbreak exploits that were supposed to spell doom & gloom for iOS security, but never materialized into anything other than a tethered jailbreak for people to try on their own devices.
    This is what Eric is referring to:
    https://ironpeak.be/blog/crouching-t2-hidden-danger/#security-issues
    docno42ronn
  • Reply 49 of 58
    docno42docno42 Posts: 3,712member
    cloudguy said:
    So are you like this with security issues for all products or just those made by Apple?
    Name me one 100% secure product (that's still useable).

    I'll wait.  These kinds of issues aren't new - there are far more of them on the Windows side of things.  

    Nope, that doesn't mean they aren't of at least some concern - but a little pragmatism is warranted here.   For the vast majority of people the odds of them running into someone successfully exploiting this against them are infinitesimal.  

    Furthermore if you are someone who has a legitimate concern about this flaw, you aren't going to be relying on FileVault in the first place.  

    I realize pragmatism isn't as much fun as throwing your arms up, running around and yelling FIRE so feel free to carry on if you prefer; frankly your assertions are ludicrous.  
    ronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 50 of 58
    docno42docno42 Posts: 3,712member
    Mitty said:
    Do you have any idea what kind of Ryzen machine running Mint I can have for that kind of money? https://i.imgur.com/5chHGR8.png
    lol - Windows has had far more vulnerabilities around their secure boot/encryption than Apple has.  But by all means leap first and look later second.  
    ronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 51 of 58
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,304member
    svanstrom said:
    JFC_PA said:
    “ ecause of the nature of the vulnerability and related exploits, physical access is required for attacks to be carried out.

    As a result, average users can avoid the exploits by maintaining physical security, and not plugging in USB-C devices with unverified provenance.”

    So once the bad people HAVE the device they can mess with it.   Yawn. 
    Which means that the devices that used to be undesirable by thieves and robbers now are perfectly legit reasons for pulling weapons on, physically attacking, and in at least some cases also worth killing, people out and about. There's no yawning about that.

    Since when were macs undesirable by thieves? If someone breaks into your car or home and snatches a Macbook or iMac or whatever machine.. you really think they were going so far as to verify the model and if it has a T2 chip, in the middle of stealing from a home, car or person?
    ronn
  • Reply 52 of 58
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,779member
    Don't put cart before horse. Has Apple acknowledged security issue in T2 chip or we all debating based on someone claims is a security issue in T2 chip ?
    lkruppRayz2016
  • Reply 53 of 58
    yuck9yuck9 Posts: 112member
    jcc said:
    Ummmm....ok. So we all have devices that are insecure if left unattended or lost? Is this going to get swept under the rug, or will there be some sort of action by Apple to remedy?????
    Niels H. said that the vulnerability is hardware related. If you expect Apple to recall all the devices with T2 chip in it you'll be waiting a very long time as it's not going to happen. There's no way they will spend billions to fix this.
    Class action would and can a fix. They are at fault. Plain and simple.
  • Reply 54 of 58
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 1,073member
    yuck9 said:
    jcc said:
    Ummmm....ok. So we all have devices that are insecure if left unattended or lost? Is this going to get swept under the rug, or will there be some sort of action by Apple to remedy?????
    Niels H. said that the vulnerability is hardware related. If you expect Apple to recall all the devices with T2 chip in it you'll be waiting a very long time as it's not going to happen. There's no way they will spend billions to fix this.
    Class action would and can a fix. They are at fault. Plain and simple.
    I don’t think you can sue for something that might happen, otherwise the makers of scissors, knives, ladders, and just about every other product ever sold would be sued out of existence. 
    ronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 55 of 58
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,843member
    razorpit said:
    You buy used USB cables on eBay? You deserve everything that comes with it. 
    More like... if you're a spy, and someone comes along going... 'have I got a USB cable for you!' be suspicious.

    Bottom line... it's still far more secure than a device w/o a T2, and if you have crucial secure info, don't depend on the base file-system encryption. There are bunches of apps and encrypted disc-images that can be utilized.

    The main problem would be the USB-device based key-loggers. But, this probably assumes you're being targeted, as if a general manufactured device was key-logging and then sending that data, it would get caught if it were doing it in general.
    ronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 56 of 58
    MittyMitty Posts: 17member
    docno42 said:
    Mitty said:
    Do you have any idea what kind of Ryzen machine running Mint I can have for that kind of money? https://i.imgur.com/5chHGR8.png
    lol - Windows has had far more vulnerabilities around their secure boot/encryption than Apple has.  But by all means leap first and look later second.  
    Where in my post did I say anything about Windows? 
  • Reply 57 of 58
    Coulda, woulda, shoulda — There’s a reason nobody has picked this up — It’s a supposition based on what? I get why AI and ZDNet have pointed to it, and hopefully Apple will respond, but until it’s someone other than this guy, who hasn’t done any of the research himself, let’s not freak out. It’s not that these vulnerabilities and exploits don’t exist, but the speculation on how to combine them doesn’t seem to be, you know, based on actually doing so. Seems like more of a rumor at this point.
    edited October 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 58 of 58
    Updating to say it has been broadly reported now, so my comment above no longer applies.

    The main point, I think, is Apple can remedy this in new Macs, just by revising the T2 firmware. It would surprise me if Apple hasn’t already done that. The earliest they could have known of the combined exploit was July, but more likely August.

    The problem is older Macs with the T2, where the firmware can’t be changed.

    I think you’ll see a more active approach going forward, in responding to jailbreaks. Seems like Apple was tolerant of Checkm8 — by itself, it doesn’t pose a serious threat to the T2. But in combination with the PanGu jailbreak, it does. Somebody probably has been fired?
    edited October 2020
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