Apple Acquired Firmware Security Company LegbaCore Last November

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Apple acquired firmware security company LegbaCore in November 2015, according to security researcher Trammell Hudson, who revealed the acquisition in his presentation at the 32C3 conference in December. LegbaCore's goal, according to founder Xeno Kovah, is "to help build systems that are as secure as we know how to make."

In November, Kovah and fellow LegbaCore founder Corey Kallenberg revealed that they had joined Apple as full-time employees. Just a couple days before that, LegbaCore's website announced that it would "not be accepting any new customer engagements", noting that the website would remain up "to serve as a reference for LegbaCore's past work."

LegbaCore had collaborated with Hudson on Thunderstrike 2, the first firmware worm to affect Mac computers. The malware is impossible to remove, resistant to both firmware and software updates. LegbaCore and Hudson had alerted Apple to Thunderstrike 2's vulnerabilities and Apple began work on fixes, issuing one in June 2015.

On Twitter, Kovah said that Apple began discussions with LegbaCore after the consultancy's presentation in summer 2015. It soon became clear to Kovah and Kallenberg that Apple had "some *very* interesting and highly impactful work" that the two could participate in. They were eventually convinced to wind down LegbaCore's existing contracts and begin work at Apple.
What did Apple hire us to do? We can't say. :) Well, we can probably say something like "low level security" (I don't know our job titles) - Xeno Kovah (@XenoKovah) November 10, 2015

While LegbaCore is a security consultancy firm that doesn't own any specific technology, it's likely Apple will use Kovah and Kallenberg's talent and knowledge to help improve firmware and software security in future iterations of Apple's various hardware and software products. LegbaCore's work includes research on Thunderstrike 2, "dead code" for BIOS attacks and more.

(Thanks, Jost!)

Article Link: Apple Acquired Firmware Security Company LegbaCore Last November
 

Sasparilla

macrumors 65816
Jul 6, 2012
1,343
2,049
This rocks. If there is one thing Apple can do to distance itself from the competition (Google and Microsoft where your the product or your the product and shared with the NSA) its going all in on giving users privacy and security.

Apple will need an extended focus on this (the security / privacy environment will only get worse) so this is a good sign upper management really gets it. Go Apple - this is how you make sure I get a Mac next time I'm replacing a PC.
 

Vanilla35

macrumors 68040
Apr 11, 2013
3,213
1,191
Washington D.C.
This rocks. If there is one thing Apple can do to distance itself from the competition (Google and Microsoft where your the product or your the product and shared with the NSA) its going all in on giving users privacy and security.

Apple will need an extended focus on this (the security / privacy environment will only get worse) so this is a good sign upper management really gets it. Go Apple - this is how you make sure I get a Mac next time I'm replacing a PC.
Plus now they have to worry about the government trying to backdoor their ass for the next few decades. No pun intended.
 

duffman9000

macrumors 68000
Sep 7, 2003
1,886
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Deep in the Depths of CA
"The malware is impossible to remove, resistant to both firmware and software updates"
How can a bug be resistant to firmware updates?
Could it be that the current running firmware may help download the new firmware? The compromised firmware can choose to not update itself.

I've come to expect the worse. Every peripheral needs a digital condom. In lieu of a digital rubber for your internet connection, just blacklist 99% of the sites and hope the remaining 1% aren't compromised. If your computer still gets infected nuke your Mac from orbit. It's the only way to be sure the firmware exploits will die.
 

69Mustang

macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
6,966
12,539
In between a rock and a hard place
You know where firmware security would be *really* critical?

A car.

Just sayin'.

Of course it matters everywhere else too...
Definitely agree. With more and more cars adding customer facing technology, it will be critical to have that firmware locked down tightly. Cars are already being hacked. The more tech added, the more vectors available to attack. IF Apple makes a car, I think close integration with iOS is a safe bet since it's their most used and familiar OS. I can imagine JB'ers champing at the bit to be the first to JB that mythical unicorn that is the Apple car.
 
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MrNomNoms

macrumors 65816
Jan 25, 2011
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Wellington, New Zealand
Will be interesting to see what happens particularly how many large enterprises are now deploying Mac's into their work place under BYOD policies. It'll be interesting to see how this impacts the Mac UEFI security as well as Apple taking it further when it comes to the whole jail break community but then again mind you there is the ability to side load applications by compiling them from the source so for many technology enthusiasts there really isn't a need to jail break.
 

justperry

macrumors G4
Aug 10, 2007
10,167
5,314
Home is everywhere and nowhere.
"The malware is impossible to remove, resistant to both firmware and software updates"
How can a bug be resistant to firmware updates?

The standard Firmware is vulnerable to attacks but it can still be updated, if the malware installs custom Firmware which blocks updating then that's a whole different story.