In Apple’s latest laptops, they have incorporated technology to help manage power consumption. Now hacker Charlie Miller has found a fatal security flaw in the firmware that manages these battery functions.
The software uses a default password which he has found to be the same for every laptop that has the battery saving features installed. Charlie has found a way to stop the battery from accepting a charge or even a way to cause it to heat up and subsequently start on fire or explode. One could even say that the battery could “self destruct.”
Charlie plans to unveil his findings at the Black Hat security conference in August. The flaw in the security lets them actually control the micro-controller that is in control of the battery’s power systems. The password that Charlie had found allowed root access to the firmware on the micro-controller chip. If a hacker wrote a virus or script that accessed this firmware, they could potentially render many Apple laptop batteries useless. If the hacker was successful to infect the firmware it is unlikely that any manufacturer or software could detect it.
“You could put a whole hard drive in, reinstall the software, flash the BIOS, and every time it would re-attack and screw you over. There would be no way to eradicate or detect it other than removing the battery.”
He also says that the batteries may not actually explode because they contain safeguards that actually break the circuit under high temperatures. However he still thinks that it is possible if you know what you are doing. It’s a unique security flaw that nobody has ever thought to look at before according to Charlie.