At the upcoming Black Hat Security conference in August, a researcher by the name of Charlie Miller plans to completely ruin a MacBook. The way he’s going to do it is the real story, though. Miller will demo a new attack that can be used to take control of the battery in Apple laptops and completely destroy them, even causing them to catch fire.
The problem discovered by Miller is that modern laptops use some very smart batteries, and Apple was being a bit lax. There are controller chips that monitor the battery state and tell it when to stop charging, when to turn off, and so on. Apple ships these chips with their passwords set to the default. So if an attacker gains access to this part of the system, they can ruin the computer at will. The battery could even be sabotaged to explode. Malware could also be left on the chip to infect the computer over and over again.
Miller discovered the vulnerability by dissecting a 2009 Apple MacBook update file. Many security analysts have asked Miller to stop his work, as it could prove too dangerous, but Miller is forging ahead. he plans to release a program for Apple to implement called Caulkgun that changes the firmware password on the chips to a random string of numbers. Do you think Miller should back off, or should the information be public?