Re: Brian Krebs’ reporting on supposed MacBook Wi-Fi exploit

Daring Fireball’s John Gruber writes, “With a headline like ‘Hijacking a Macbook in 60 Seconds or Less,’ or his quote from exploit co-discoverer David Maynor saying ‘if you watch those ‘Get a Mac’ commercials enough, it eventually makes you want to stab one of those users in the eye with a lit cigarette or something,’ where would anyone get the idea that the point of Krebs’s post was to pick on Macs? Or, more accurately, to generate a sensational amount of attention by playing off the Mac’s sterling reputation for security?

Gruber asks, “Did Krebs see the exploit work against a MacBook’s built-in AirPort card? He says he stands by his reporting, but he did not report that the exploit works against the MacBook’s built-in AirPort driver; he reported that Maynor and Ellch told him that it works against the MacBook’s built-in AirPort driver. ‘I stand by that they told me the built-in driver is expoitable’ is very different than ‘I stand by that the built-in driver is exploitable.’

Gruber writes, “If it’s true that this exploit does work against the MacBook’s built-in AirPort driver, it’s one of the most serious security exploits ever discovered against Mac OS X. Basing their demo video on a third-party card makes matters worse, not better, because it creates the perception that the majority of MacBook users are safe because they aren’t using third-party cards.”

Gruber writes, “Krebs’s shoddy reporting leaves nearly all the important questions regarding this exploit unanswered. What about other models? Are MacBook Pros exploitable as well? PowerBooks? iBooks? Desktop Macs that use AirPort? Is a Mac vulnerable in its default out-of-the-box configuration? For example, by default, Mac OS X is configured to ask for confirmation before joining an unknown open Wi-Fi network. Does this exploit require that this setting (in the Network panel in System Preferences) be changed to allow joining unknown open networks automatically? Are any other changes to the default networking configuration required to allow this exploit to work? Is there anything Mac users can do to protect themselves other than completely disabling AirPort?”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Rainy Day” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Take: What exactly is going on here? Any ideas?

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Hijacking an Apple Macbook in 60 seconds video posted online – August 03, 2006
Hijacking an Apple Macbook in 60 seconds – August 02, 2006

34 Comments

  1. Patched already. We don’t have to endure poor security for two years while we wait for a “service pack” from Microsoft. Today’s software update:

    Security Update 2006-004 is recommended for all users and improves the security of the following components.

    AFP Server
    Bluetooth
    Bom
    DHCP
    dyld
    fetchmail
    gnuzip
    ImageIO
    LaunchServices
    OpenSSH
    telnet
    WebKit

    For detailed information on this Update, please visit this website: http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=61798

  2. it’s ZUNE!!!! It’s so powerful that it’s not only killing iPods but ALL Apple products everywhere!

    wake up Mac people…Microsoft is winning. They are slowly and methodically taking down Apple bit by bit.

    Vista isn’t delayed…it’s waiting…waiting to pounce on Leopard like…a … Leopard.

  3. The update DOES solve the problem, it does NOT solve the problem, the sky is falling, no it isn’t . . . WHO THE HELL ARE YOU PEOPLE AND WHY SHOULD ANYONE HEED ANYTHING YOU HAVE TO SAY?

    Every day–in every way–the internet is becoming a repository of fools.

  4. What laptop did he put the third party wireless card into? It looks like a black macbook, however, I didn’t think the macbooks had that type of expansion. I though only the macbook pros had the expansion slot, and at that isn’t it the ExpressCard/34? That looked like a standard PC wireless card. It is just me or did I miss something?

  5. “Maynor stressed that there was nothing Mac-specific in the attack. The problem was not in the OS X operating system from Apple (AAPL) but in the third-party “device driver” software. Although only Intel (INTC) has announced vulnerabilities, it seems a safe bet at this point that there are similar problems with any type of Wi-Fi radio working with any operating system, including any flavor of Windows or Linux.”

    http://yahoo.businessweek.com/technology/content/aug2006/tc20060803_264406.htm

    If somebody could send this link to these guys at MDN it would be much appriciated.

  6. Damacles is exempt from the foolery. You can tell from the fact that he just told us. Also, he’s so against this forum that he posted to tell us rather than closing his window.

    nice conviction Dam.

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