A security researcher has created a fake iPhone cable that could allow attackers to trick their way into a victim’s devices.
Apple Lightning cables are used to connect Apple mobile devices like iPhones, iPads, and iPods to host computers, battery chargers and more. Any Mac or Windows computer could be affected, with hackers able to hijack a laptop or PC just by plugging the cable in.
When you plug a mobile device into a computer, your iPhone or other device starts charging and a message pops up on your mobile device asking if you “trust this computer”. However, when Motherboard tested out this cable, a hacker remotely opened a terminal on the Mac’s screen and started running commands on their computer.
All an attacker has to do is swap out the legitimate cable for the malicious cable and wait until a target plugs it into their computer.
Security researcher Mike Grover created the fake iPhone cable, installing it with implants that could let hackers remotely connect to the computer once it’s been given access. He demonstrated how the technology works at the annual DEF CON hacking conference in Las Vegas.
He made the cables by hand, modifying real Apple cables to include the implant. While it looks and functions just like a normal Lightning cable, Grover’s O.MG Cable can give a hacker full control over the system, as long as it’s plugged in and connected to Wi-Fi.
He told Motherboard:
It looks like a legitimate cable and works just like one. Not even your computer will notice a difference. Until I, as an attacker, wirelessly take control of the cable.
Once a hacker has taken control of your computer, they could reconfigure entire systems or download and launch malware onto the device. The scary thing is that you wouldn’t be able to tell this is incredibly dangerous to your device until the attack is actually happening.
But it’s not just fake iPhone cables that you will need to worry about. Grover admitted he believes he’d be able to do the same thing with others as well.
He told Motherboard:
Apple cables are simply the most difficult to do this to, so if I can successfully implant one of these, then I can usually do it to other cables.
While these are only a prototype currently, there are plans for these to be going up for sale. Since the conference, there has been a lot of interest in the project with requests on how to acquire the cable.
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Matt Weston is a lover of electric cars, artificial intelligence and space. From Cornwall, he’s a UCLan graduate that still dreams of being a Formula One driver in the very near future. Previously work includes reporting for regional newspapers and freelance video for the International Business Times.