Some Apple Macs have a particularly terrible flaw that lets hackers sneak in and remain undetected security researcher Pedro Vilaca noted in his blog.
Older Apple computers may be susceptible to a new zero-day vulnerability the flaw can be used to install rootkit malware that’s nearly undetectable and very hard to remove. Macs purchased one year ago or before, apparently are susceptible to the attack.
When a Mac goes into sleep mode and wakes back up, it allows direct access to the BIOS. It’s a weird quirk that lets someone tamper with the code there. The vulnerability is in Apple computers’ UEFI (unified extensible firmware interface), which is designed to improve upon a machine’s BIOS.
UEFI code is usually sealed off but Vilaca discovered that when Apple computers made before mid-2014 go to sleep and are reawakened, the code is unlocked and able to be modified. The attack was successfully tested on a MacBook Pro Retina, a MacBook Pro 8.2 and a MacBook Air, all running the latest EFI firmware available. Macs made in 2014 are not vulnerable, which could mean Apple already found the bug but hasn’t patched older models yet.
The only way to defend against the vulnerability is to always shut your computer down or never let it go to sleep by adjusting the settings in the power save area under preferences. A similar exploit, called Thunderstrike, was discovered last year, but Vilaca claims the one he found could be even more dangerous as it may be possible to remotely exploit the bug.