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Another researcher was able to convert the built-in Apple keyboard into spyware using a similar method.
According to the researchers, the vulnerability they discovered affects “Apple internal i Sight webcams found in earlier-generation Apple products, including the i Mac G5 and early Intel-based i Macs, Mac Books, and Mac Book Pros until roughly 2008.” While the attack outlined in the paper is limited to these devices, researchers like Charlie Miller suggest that the attack could be applicable to newer systems as well.
In the video below, we demonstrate how the camera can be activated without triggering the telltale warning light.
Attacks that exploit microcontrollers are becoming more common.
Most laptops with built-in cameras have an important privacy feature — a light that is supposed to turn on any time the camera is in use.
The FBI says it found software on Abrahams’s computer that allowed him to spy remotely on her and numerous other women. While her case was instant fodder for celebrity gossip sites, it left a serious issue unresolved.
“People are starting to think about what happens when you can reprogram each of those,” Miller says.
For example, he demonstrated an attack last year on the software that controls Apple batteries, which causes the battery to discharge rapidly, potentially leading to a fire or explosion.
He says that cheap RATs like the one used in Merion High School may not have the ability to disable the hardware LEDs, but “you would probably expect more sophisticated surveillance offerings which cost hundreds of thousands of euros” to be stealthier.
He points to commercial surveillance products such as Hacking Team and Fin Fisher that are marketed for use by governments.