Security Researcher Develops Lightning Cable That Gives Hackers a Way to Remotely Infiltrate Your Computer

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Aug 12, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    A security researcher named MG has developed a Lightning cable replacement that can give hackers a way to remotely access your computer, reports Motherboard.

    The cables in question (dubbed O.MG Cables) are cables directly from Apple that have been opened up to allow for additional components to be implanted, but the modifications are undetectable and there's no way to distinguish the hacked cable from the original.


    When plugged into a target computer, the cable behaves as a typical cable does, connecting to and charging iOS devices, but it also lets hackers remotely connect to a machine to run commands. It comes equipped with scripts and commands that a hacker can run on a victim's machine, along with tools to "kill" the USB implant to hide evidence of its existence.
    In a test with Motherboard, MG was able to connect his phone to a WiFi hotspot that the cable was emitting. He said he needed to be within 300 feet to access the target machine, but also said that the cable can be configured to act as a client for a nearby wireless network, potentially allowing for hacking from an unlimited distance.
    MG imagines the cable could be swapped in for a target's legitimate cable or gifted to someone because it looks exactly like an Apple cable, complete with accurate packaging. Each of these cables were made by hand and are being sold by MG for $200, but he is teaming up with a company to produce them as a legitimate security tool.

    It's not clear if there is any defense against this kind of hack, but it sounds like these cables are prohibitively expensive and limited in availability at the current time. Those concerned should buy cables directly from Apple without accepting free cables from anyone. Apple may also be developing a mitigation and has previously restricted other USB access techniques through USB Restricted Mode.

    Article Link: Security Researcher Develops Lightning Cable That Gives Hackers a Way to Remotely Infiltrate Your Computer
  2. DrJohnnyN Suspended


    Jan 27, 2010
    Wow. Scary.

    "Those concerned should buy cables directly from Apple without accepting free cables from anyone."

    People give out free cables?
  3. dannyyankou macrumors G3


    Mar 2, 2012
    Scarsdale, NY
  4. rjohnstone macrumors 68040


    Dec 28, 2007
    PHX, AZ.
  5. SecuritySteve macrumors 6502a


    Jul 6, 2017
    I think the scariest part of this is that it shows that should a supply chain be compromised, and secret components added to the manufacturing process, it would be virtually impossible to detect prior to normal use.

    Good work though. It might lead to more 'do you trust this keyboard?' prompts though...
  6. mr.steevo macrumors 65816


    Jul 21, 2004
    Be wary of a guy in a trench coat handing out free Lightening Cables.
  7. MedRed macrumors member


    Jun 9, 2007
    Nothing is safe. Time to get OEM cables and discreetly mark them.
  8. Jimmy Bubbles macrumors 6502

    Jimmy Bubbles

    Jul 10, 2008
    Nashville, TN
    Yet another reason to wirelessly sync your phone to Mac, for those that still sync the two.
  9. TheWatchfulOne macrumors 6502


    Jun 19, 2009
    I'm finding that Anker makes pretty good alternatives.
  10. JPack macrumors 601


    Mar 27, 2017
    So how does Apple ensure its supply chain isn't compromised?
  11. EvilEvil macrumors 6502a


    Jan 8, 2007
    New York City
  12. ckurt25 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 25, 2009
    Grand Rapids, MI
  13. IIGS User macrumors regular

    Feb 24, 2019
    Someone might access my collection of funny cat pictures and snapshots from train museums.

    Doomed. Just doomed...
  14. Equitek macrumors newbie

    Feb 12, 2011
    Chicago, Illinois, USA
    It would cost a fortune to do that with no real benefit; you want this cable in the hands of someone you presumable know and want to target. Scary!
  15. coolfactor macrumors 601

    Jul 29, 2002
    Vancouver, BC CANADA
    I'm curious about this part....

    Is it a local IP on the Wifi network? Is it a localhost IP address broadcast over Bluetooth? Given 300 feet, I'm guessing Bluetooth.

  16. laz232, Aug 12, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019

    laz232 macrumors 6502

    Feb 4, 2016
    At a café near you
    ??? the OP thinks that $200 is prohibitively expensive for a criminal organization, government spy agency, or industrial spy...
    Heck a hobbyist or jealous partner could afford it...

    Also because the original report on vice is made by ****** journalists for Clickbait it looks like it is not a user privilege escalation so this is effectively just a keyboard exploit
  17. konqerror, Aug 12, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019

    konqerror macrumors 6502a

    Dec 31, 2013
    That would be the opposite of what you want. You want a supplier that you know has strong supply chain security protections. Anker is a foreign-owned company which, for even mid-level security regulations, disqualifies it right there.

    Plus, buying from Amazon is the absolute worst because they co-mingle inventory. Somebody could send tampered cables for sale via FBA, and they would send them to you as sold by Amazon or Anker. Buying from mail order allows for targeted attacks, even somebody swapping the package on your porch. The safest would be to walk right into a random Apple store and select a box off the shelf.
  18. Bswails macrumors regular

    Jul 28, 2016
    It’s the beauty of life!! We should be glad that man hasn’t made something that man can’t break!
  19. mattyj2001 macrumors member


    Oct 29, 2015
    This is the 'don't plug in random USB sticks you find lying around' all over again. What's old is new, I guess.

    I'd almost not want to call this a remote exploit since:

    1. It requires physical access to the computer.
    2. You have to essentially be in the same room with it.
  20. laz232 macrumors 6502

    Feb 4, 2016
    At a café near you
    A more realistic threat is as freebies at business to business tradeshows.

    used to end up with lots of USB flash drives that way but now I don't accept them or just throw them away...
  21. boccabella macrumors regular

    Oct 26, 2010
    Get a Sharpie and mark a soot on your cables. Problem solved.
  22. konqerror macrumors 6502a

    Dec 31, 2013
    Attacker has ability to embed a small computer and wireless transceiver in a tiny USB cable and covertly connect to it.
    Attacker can't figure out how to use a Sharpie.
  23. Imdougurnot macrumors member


    Jul 4, 2017
    $200 and they’ll last a month before they’re trash.
  24. macfacts macrumors 68040


    Oct 7, 2012
    Good thing all of Apple's contractors are so trust worthy.

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