Can anyone explain this story to me? ("Bug hunter targets routers")

Discussion in 'macOS' started by frozencarbonite, Apr 20, 2007.

  1. frozencarbonite macrumors 6502


    Aug 3, 2006
    I hope this is the right place to post this.

    I came across this story earlier today.,+other+gadgets/2100-1002_3-6177754.html

    I wanted to see if anyone could help me understand what this issue affects. I have a Powerbook G4 with a PowerPC processor and I use an Airport Extreme. I noticed that it says "This is code that runs gadgets equipped with ARM, MIPS, XScale and PowerPC microprocessors." I know it says "gadgets" but it looks like he is also talking about computers. Does this mean that this affects PowerPC users?

    I can't find much else online about it.
  2. wrldwzrd89 macrumors G5


    Jun 6, 2003
    Solon, OH
    The issue mentioned (and related issues) would potentially affect your AirPort Extreme, as well as any other network hardware you use, but not your computer. PowerPC processors are quite common in "embedded" devices like routers and wireless access points (the AirPort Extreme fits this description).
  3. frozencarbonite thread starter macrumors 6502


    Aug 3, 2006
    Well that really stinks!

    Are the new Airport Extreme's affected or just the one's prior to the new one? I looked for the tech specs on the new Airport, but can't find any mention of what embedded processor it uses.

    So I guess nothing can be done if the majority of routers use these types of embedded processors. Also, it's very hard to tell what the embedded processors are on different routers. They don't list them in the specs. I've been looking online and haven't found much about them.
  4. yellow Moderator emeritus


    Oct 21, 2003
    Portland, OR
  5. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    The article is really rather stupid.

    Lots of things that you use are really computers. Not just a Mac or a Windows PC, or an Apple TV, also things like a mobile phone, a DVD player, a router, and so on and so on. They all have processors inside (note that the list "ARM, MIPS, XScale, PowerPC" does not mean that these processors are especially vulnerable, it means that any others didn't spring immediately to the author's mind. Like x86). They all run software that is stored inside the box. They all are potentially vulnerable to attacks by some hacker.

    The important thing here is "potentially". A hacker can only successfully attack a box if there are bugs in the software inside. And not just any bugs. An Apple TV might have a bug that makes it play certain movies wrong - that would be annoying, but no security problem. Or the router might have a bug where certain data makes it crash - even more annoying, but no security problem.

    In order to have a security problem, there must be a bug in that software that allows the attacker to take over the processor in the box and bring it under its control. That kind of thing is very very difficult to achieve.

    Should you worry? Let's put it this way: Anyone that can attack the Airport in your living room could also take a gun or a knife and kill you. You didn't worry about that before I told you, right?
  6. dr_springfield macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2005
    Unfortunately the article is short on details. The attack only actually affects ARM processors, so this doesn't affect any shipping Apple products (although many rumors have it that the iPhone will ship with an ARM processor).
  7. frozencarbonite thread starter macrumors 6502


    Aug 3, 2006
    I've been doing some research about the type of processor inside the Airport Extremes and found that they all use an AMD Alchemy Au1500 processor which is based on the MIPS architecture.

    I agree it is very minimal on the details which may be a good thing right now. Hopefully, he is sensible and doesn't release his "how to" on the internet.

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