March 17, 2017 by

White Hats Hack MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar

 A pair of hackers at this year’s installment of the popular Pwn2Own hacking contest have succeeded in compromising a MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar, replacing the touch interface with a message of their own through an exploit discovered on the Safari browser.

The Pwn2Own hacking conference showcases some of the best coders and hackers from around the world and this year’s event, its tenth anniversary, was no different.

Last year, hackers at the conference succeeded in exploiting all four major browsers – Google Chrome, Apple’s Safari, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.

This year’s highlight, sees hackers pull off an exploit to take over the much-publicized Touch Bar on Apple’s MacBook Pro. For their prowess, the hackers were rewarded $28,000.

Samuel Groß and Niklas Baumstark were able to take advantage of an unspecified number of logic bugs to exploit Safari. From here, the white hat hackers took root control of the operating system on a MacBook Pro. A feat in and of itself, the hackers stood to win monetary rewards and accumulate nine points in the competition. However, the hackers then proceeded to do one better, enthralling those attending the event with a cheeky custom message on the Touch Bar.

The Zero Day Initiative website, reveals a few details about the hack:

.They employed a use-after-free (UAF) in Safari combined with three logic bugs and a null pointer dereference to exploit Safari and elevate their privileges to root in macOS. Unfortunately, the UAF had already been corrected in the beta version of the browser, but this bug chain still netted them a partial win, garnering them $28,000 and 9 Master of Pwn points.

Meanwhile, the information and process toward the hack will be shared with Apple, before the public or the rest of the cybersecurity community finds out how the exploit and attack were implemented.

The first day of the Pwn2Own contest has already awarded $233,000 USD and 45 points towards teams. Altogether, the day saw five successful attempts, one partial success, two failures and two withdrawn entries.

Image credit: Pixabay.

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LIFARS is a digital forensics and cybersecurity intelligence firm based in New York City. LIFARS is ranked as one of the top Digital Forensics and Cyber Investigations companies in 2016 and as one of the top cybersecurity companies in the New York metropolitan area for 2015 on the Cybersecurity 500 – a directory of the hottest and most innovative companies to watch in the cybersecurity industry.

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