Thunderbolt devices can infect MacBooks with persistent rootkits
Attackers can infect MacBook computers with highly persistent boot rootkits by connecting malicious devices to them over the Thunderbolt interface.
The attack, dubbed Thunderstrike, installs malicious code in a MacBook’s boot ROM (read-only memory), which is stored in a chip on the motherboard. It was devised by a security researcher named Trammell Hudson based on a two-year old vulnerability and will be demonstrated next week at the 31st Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg.
“It is possible to use a Thunderbolt Option ROM to circumvent the cryptographic signature checks in Apple’s EFI firmware update routines,” Hudson said in the description of his upcoming presentation. “This allows an attacker with physical access to the machine to write untrusted code to the SPI flash ROM on the motherboard and creates a new class of firmware bootkits for the MacBook systems.”