Researchers at MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have found a security flaw within Apple’s M1 chip. This is a hardware flaw that makes it impossible to fix with a software update.
According to the researchers, the flaw could allow malicious people to break through the last line of security.
Unsolvable flaw Apple’s M1 chip discovered
Apple’s M1 chip makes it difficult for a malicious person to inject malicious code into a device’s memory. Impossible it is not, however, researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have discovered. In fact, a vulnerability can be found in Apple’s hardware-based security mechanism, called the Pointer Authentication Codes (PAC). By performing a hardware attack on this mechanism, the researchers found that this authentication can be defeated.
The attack in question was named Pacman and managed to leave no trace of its attack. It managed, using so-called Speculative Execution, to guess the Pointer Authentication Code and infect the system. Dangerous, because given that this is a hardware problem, it cannot be fixed with a security update.
Apple’s M1 chip, by the way, is not always crackable by Pacman. According to the researchers, this is not a magical workaround and is only possible in combination with existing bugs. The publication has since been sent to Apple but has not yet released anything about the vulnerability to TechCruch+, the source of this story.
Definitely not the first bug
Although Apple M1 chip has an incredibly good reputation is not all roses. In May last year, a developer also discovered a flaw in the security of the SoC (System on a Chip). This managed to create a connection that allowed at least two different malicious applications to exchange information with each other.
At the time, that problem was addressed by Apple as harmless. This was due to the fact that malware cannot be used to steal or interrupt data.