A recently released tool is letting anyone exploit an unusual Mac
vulnerability to bypass Apple’s trusted T2 security chip and gain deep
system access. The flaw is one researchers have also been using for more
than a year to jailbreak older models of iPhones. But the fact that the
T2 chip is vulnerable in the same way creates a new host of potential
threats. Worst of all, while Apple may be able to slow down potential
hackers, the flaw is ultimately unfixable in every Mac that has a T2
inside. From a report: In general, the jailbreak community haven’t paid
as much attention to macOS and OS X as it has iOS, because they don’t
have the same restrictions and walled gardens that are built into Apple’s
mobile ecosystem. But the T2 chip, launched in 2017, created some
limitations and mysteries. Apple added the chip as a trusted mechanism
for securing high-value features like encrypted data storage, Touch ID,
and Activation Lock, which works with Apple’s “Find My” services. But the
T2 also contains a vulnerability, known as Checkm8, that jailbreakers
have already been exploiting in Apple’s A5 through A11 (2011 to 2017)
mobile chipsets. Now Checkra1n, the same group that developed the tool
for iOS, has released support for T2 bypass. On Macs, the jailbreak
allows researchers to probe the T2 chip and explore its security
features. It can even be used to run Linux on the T2 or play Doom on a
MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar. The jailbreak could also be weaponized by
malicious hackers, though, to disable macOS security features like System
Integrity Protection and Secure Boot and install malware. Combined with
another T2 vulnerability that was publicly disclosed in July by the
Chinese security research and jailbreaking group Pangu Team, the
jailbreak could also potentially be used to obtain FileVault encryption
keys and to decrypt user data. The vulnerability is unpatchable, because
the flaw is in low-level, unchangeable code for hardware. “The T2 is
meant to be this little secure black box in Macs — a computer inside
your computer, handling things like Lost Mode enforcement, integrity
checking, and other privileged duties,” says Will Strafach, a longtime
iOS researcher and creator of the Guardian Firewall app for iOS. “So the
significance is that this chip was supposed to be harder to compromise —
but now it’s been done.” …

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