Software Allows Hackers to Activate MacBook Webcams Without Green Warning Light

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Dec 18, 2013.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot

    MacRumors

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2001
    #1
    [​IMG]


    A recently resolved criminal case shows how a man was able to hack a high school classmate's laptop in order to take nude photographs with her computer's camera without her knowledge, before attempting to use the images to extort her, reports The Washington Post.

    Though Apple's FaceTime camera is designed to always illuminate the adjacent green light at the top of the screen, software has been written to separate the camera and light hardware, allowing both illegal -- and legal, the FBI has used similar software in criminal investigations -- ways.

    [​IMG]
    A pair of students at Johns Hopkins examined Apple's webcam indicator [PDF] and discovered both how to disable the LED indicator, and a way to modify OS X's kernel to keep nefarious users from taking control of the LED. The vulnerability they described does not work on Macs built after 2008, but it is likely that similar hacks exist for newer machines.

    In the older vulnerability described in the Johns Hopkins study, the software bypasses a hardware interlock that the camera uses in an attempt to ensure the indicator light illuminates whenever the camera is active. It is not known precisely which software package the defendant in the case used to compromise his classmate's computer, but the Hopkins study is the first public confirmation that Apple's camera system can be compromised.

    The easiest way for users to protect themselves -- aside from standard security protocols like not downloading strange applications, or allowing untrusted people access to the computer -- is to put a small piece of tape across the camera.

    Article Link: Software Allows Hackers to Activate MacBook Webcams Without Green Warning Light
     
  2. appleofmy"i" macrumors regular

    appleofmy"i"

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
  3. djtech42 macrumors 65816

    djtech42

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2012
    Location:
    Mason, OH
  4. Sy7ygy Suspended

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2012
  5. iLoveiTunes macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    #6
    My thoughts exactly. lol
     
  6. TheRainKing macrumors 6502a

    TheRainKing

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2012
  7. Hungry&Foolish Suspended

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2012
  8. Screwtape macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 10, 2009
    #9
    I wonder if they've changed the design since 2008. I was under the impression that the LED is on the path to power the camera. In other words, they're wired together in a way that you can't send power to the camera without powering on the LED first.
     
  9. slffl macrumors 65816

    slffl

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2003
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #10
    I would be A LOT more worried about someone accessing my HDD than my webcam. What are you people doing that you are so worried about being recorded? Do you also not go out in public?
     
  10. bushido Suspended

    bushido

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    Location:
    Germany
    #11
    damn those female students with their hilarious post-its at the library on campus were right all along :p ;)
     
  11. iLoveiTunes, Dec 18, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2013

    iLoveiTunes macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    #12
    umm..errrr...ummmm

    Giggity..Giggity
     
  12. CerebralX macrumors 6502

    CerebralX

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2013
    Location:
    Looking for a place of freedom and rationality
    #13
    "Have been for years" and only now do they say it...
     
  13. SvP macrumors 6502

    SvP

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
    #14
    yup; taping up my camera's now, just in case. The age of internet was nice, up 'til now. I'm not sure how all these revelations don't lead up to a massive protest overthrowing or atleast disrupting your government. It's like boiling frogs...
     
  14. marvz macrumors 6502a

    marvz

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2012
    Location:
    Berlin
    #15
    Exactly my thought.. :confused:
     
  15. needfx macrumors 68040

    needfx

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    Location:
    macrumors apparently
  16. xkmxkmxlmx macrumors 6502a

    xkmxkmxlmx

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2011
    #17
    If someone wants to see me with my pants off, that's THEIR problem.
     
  17. iapplelove macrumors 601

    iapplelove

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2011
    Location:
    East Coast USA
    #18
    Nothing looks cleaner than a small piece of tape on a 2000 dollar laptop.
     
  18. TheRainKing macrumors 6502a

    TheRainKing

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2012
    #19
    But that would make it impossible for the government to spy on you without your knowledge.
     
  19. Traverse macrumors 604

    Traverse

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2013
    Location:
    Here
  20. nzalog macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2012
    #21
    My feelings exactly... take it all in. I might start putting on a show now.
     
  21. sdvinin macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2013
  22. ZacNicholson macrumors 6502a

    ZacNicholson

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2011
    Location:
    Indiana
    #23
    I wanna know how to do this. That way when I'm making a tape with a girl the green light won't distract her. The hotter they are the dumber they are.
     
  23. tcgjeukens macrumors regular

    tcgjeukens

    Joined:
    May 16, 2007
    Location:
    Esbeek, the Netherlands
    #24
    iPatch

    Years ago, when the (external) iSight was dropped in favour of the built in camera, I found a gadget manufacturer that offered an iPatch.
    A small pieces of rubber that covered the lens.
    That company may see sales moving forward.

    Coen
     
  24. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #25
    Another case of software being a poor substitute for a hardware solution.

    Per the article, they substituted their own firmware to the microprocessor responsible for the interlock. Thus calling it a hardware interlock is a bit misleading. If it really was tied to the power rail for the sensor there wouldn't be a way to bypass that. (Though if you could pulse it on and off quickly enough, someone might not notice.)

    B
     

Share This Page

184 December 18, 2013