13 October 2020
Apple launched the iMac 2020 and refreshed the MacBook Pros this year, and while they brought so many upgrades, the T2 chip has to be one of the main highlights. It is a security chip that was introduced back in 2017 and began shipping with all 2018 Macs.
The T2 security chip is Apple’s second-generation, custom silicon for Mac and it unlocks a new level of security to Mac. It mainly protects your system and prevents any attempts that can lead to access to your data. More importantly, it also prevents a third-party from booting an unsigned operating system and attempting to access your data. But what if attackers break into this shield and compromise with your data?
Security researchers have claimed that they can jailbreak Macs and MacBook devices that include Apple’s T2 security chips. According to the report from ZDNet, security researchers can make use of combining two exploits initially developed for jailbreaking iPhones and this way malware can be seeded. The exploitation is pretty complex but if exploited correctly, this jailbreak technique can allow attackers to gain full control over their devices to modify the core OS behavior or be used to retrieve sensitive or encrypted data.
Apart from handling the security on your system, the T2 chip is also responsible for boosting up the overall performance. It works as a coprocessor to lift some load from the main CPU so that everything runs smoothly. It can handle audio processing and various low-level I/O functions as well. But the core functionality has to be security. It serves as a Secure Enclave Processor (SEP) that processes sensitive data like cryptographic operations, KeyChain passwords, TouchID authentication, and secure boot capabilities.
But with the jailbreak, the attackers can take advantage of your sensitive data by breaking into the T2 chip and alter the way it normally behaves. As claimed, explained, and backed by several security researchers, the attack requires two exploits namely – Checkm8 and Blackbird to take break the T2 chip and take advantage of your system.
Keeping the technicalities behind, we are putting only the relevant information that you may be interested in. This exploitation requires physical access to your Mac. So, ensure your Mac is never left unattended as this is the best possible protection against this threat. The corporate sector, state actors, senior executives are more likely to be vulnerable rather.
Apple is yet to speak on the matter but if you suspect that your system was tempered, use this guide.