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M1 MacBook Users Could Face This New Security Risk: What We Know So Far

By: S Aadeetya


Last Updated: June 11, 2022, 11:02 IST

M1 MacBooks could be at risk to this security issue

M1 MacBooks could be at risk to this security issue

Apple launched the M1 series chip for Macs in 2020 and it has now upgraded to the new M2 series with faster performance but high power management.

Apple launched the MacBook M1 series few years back, and now it has even upgraded to the M2 series. But new research by MIT suggests the M1 chipset has a few security vulnerabilities that put it at risk.

The researchers at MIT have created a new chip attack called the PACMAN that has been found to be breaching the security standards of the M1 chipset designed by the Apple engineers. The name PACMAN has been coined after the last layer of security on the M1 chip called PAC which stands for Pointer Authentication Code, and these researchers have found a way to bypass it.

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PAC according to the researchers is a security feature that protects the main CPU unit when a hacker is able to access the memory of the chip. The PAC is then able to check for any changes made in the memory and alert the system to strengthen its defence.

And the MIT research lab team managed to crack the PAC with the PACMAN attack, which basically circumvents the PAC so the hacker is able to access the system without alarming the security layers of the machine. M1 was the testbed for this attack, and the results have raised some alarm bells this week. They also found similar issues with the ARM chipset, but are yet to test the PACMAN on the new M2 series silicone.

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With the addition to more M-series chipsets in the market, Apple is realising quickly that attackers are now eyeing its systems, and looking for possible security loopholes that can be exploited.

PACMAN is still premature in its reach, but the MIT researchers have notified Apple about the problem, and we expect the company to start working on a fix for this issue right away. Apple hasn’t officially shared any comment on this subject, so it is possible it might just release a software patch to fix the hardware vulnerability.

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first published:June 11, 2022, 11:02 IST
last updated:June 11, 2022, 11:02 IST