Apple Macs vulnerable to firmware attacks like ‘Thunderstrike’

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Apple Macs

Apple Macs

Apple protects its Mac line of computers from a form of hacking that is extremely hard to detect. But, it has not entirely successful in getting the fixes to its customers.

Duo examined what is known as firmware in the Mac computers. Firmware is an in-built kind of software that is even more basic than an operating system like Microsoft Windows or macOS.

In most cases, firmware is a hassle to update with the latest security patches. Updates carried out separately from the operating system updates that are more commonplace.

In 2015, Apple started bundling firmware updates along with operating system updates for Mac machines in an effort to ensure firmware on them stayed up to date.

But Duo surveyed 73,000 Mac computers operating in the real world and found that 4.2% of them not running the firmware they should based on their operating system. In some models, 43 percent of machines had out-of-date firmware.

“Thunderstrike” attack

Many Macs open to hacks like the “Thunderstrike” attack, where hackers can control a Mac after plugging an Ethernet adapter into the machine’s thunderbolt port.

Paradoxically, it only possible to find the potentially vulnerable machines because Apple is the only computer maker that has sought to make firmware updates part of its regular software updates, making it both more trackable and the best in the industry for firmware updates, Rich Smith, said, director of research and development at Duo.

Duo said that it had informed Apple of its findings before making them public on Friday. In a statement, it aware of the issue and is moving to address it.

Apple continues to work diligently in the area of firmware security, and always exploring ways to make our systems even more secure. In order to provide a safer and more secure experience in this area, macOS High Sierra automatically validates Mac firmware weekly.

More information: [Duo Security]