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Security experts say poor driver design leaves doors wide open

Two security researchers from Black Hat this week revealed a method in which a MacBook can be broken into and taken control of. In fact, the intrusion method is at such a low level that even firewalls and anti-virus applications can't help. Based on flaws in wireless network driver design, Apple's line of MacBooks -- and MacBook Pros -- allows an attacker to remotely bypass the security of the laptop and the operating system.

Jon Ellch and David Maynor from Black Hat say that drivers for Apple's notebooks are developed not in house, but outside using contracted development companies. Ellch says that often times, these development people are under so much pressure from higher management to get working drivers so that companies can rush our products to market. Under circumstances like this, drivers for devices such as wireless network processors enter "the wild" in an untested state.

However, Mayner said that "we're not picking specifically on Macs here, but if you watch those 'Get a Mac' commercials enough, it eventually makes you want to stab one of those users in the eye with a lit cigarette or something." Mayner cites that many of Apple's commercials claim that Macs don't suffer from the same security vulnerabilities that PCs do but in fact, they do.

The team at Black Hat demonstrated that they could circumvent the Wi-Fi security and OS level security in a MacBook and within just 60 seconds, were able to take complete control of the machine. Black Hat demonstrated the technique through a pre-recorded video to prevent anyone from intercepting the wireless network traffic to deconstruct the attack and release it elsewhere. Black Hat said that it has been in contact with both Apple and Microsoft, because the vulnerability exists on both sides.

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RE: Amen
By INeedCache on 8/4/2006 3:44:12 PM , Rating: 2
All true, except that I may not live long enough for the "just wait till OS X gets enough market share..." the way Apple prices things.

RE: Amen
By Pirks on 8/4/2006 3:56:36 PM , Rating: 1
the way Apple prices things
If they set the price such that a Mac configured the same as PC in similar or better style/form factor costs the same or sometimes less, while providing both OS X and Windows compatibility - which is the case with their pricing at the moment, compare and prices and see for yourself - I'd say you'll see Apple will continue to double its market share not only for this and last year - they will teach all AT downmodding clowns a lesson or two, this year, next year and so on. I will be surprised if they will NOT double their market share every year for several years more. 12% of retail US laptop sales from nothing - of course this won't teach you anythig - keep in your cell, just shut the windows tighter - the reality may hurt your sensitive eyes.

RE: Amen
By retrospooty on 8/4/2006 5:54:44 PM , Rating: 2
LOL, so you think Apple will reverse the trend of declining marketshare over the past 10 years and triple growth? Even Steve Jobs doent think that, and he's totally insane.

They now have less than 3% global market share of all personal computers sold. And they acheved this near oblivion how? By continuing to launch superior products at a competitive price points? LOL , you MAC clones crack me up.

Triple... LOL .... LOL again.

RE: Amen
By TomZ on 8/4/2006 6:02:07 PM , Rating: 2
LOL, so you think Apple will reverse the trend of declining marketshare over the past 10 years and triple growth? Even Steve Jobs doent think that, and he's totally insane.

The way Apple could gain more market share going forward is to convince iPod/iTunes users to give up their PCs in favor of Macs. This is already happening, and I don't see any reason to believe that this will not continue to happen. At the moment, there's not anything all that interesting going on in the PC world, except for maybe the launch of Vista, and the value proposition for Vista is not really understood yet by consumers.

RE: Amen
By Pirks on 8/4/2006 8:18:20 PM , Rating: 2
the value proposition for Vista is not really understood yet by consumers
Could you please elaborate more on that "value proposition"? Everyone knows it's a refreshed version of Windows with new GUI and new version of DirectX, which does exactly the same stuff that XP was doing, it's just in a new skin. Granted, security is better, but it was better in XP service packs, so no major difference, it's rather incremental process. Do you mean something specific and not well-known when you say "value proposition for Vista"? Something we don't know, some hidden knowledge from MSDN?

RE: Amen
By TomZ on 8/4/2006 9:49:24 PM , Rating: 3
Could you please elaborate more on that "value proposition"?

Value proposition relates to marketing, more than technical. What I mean by that is, what will Microsoft tell potential customers about why they should embrace Vista. You start to see this here on their marketing web site:

RE: Amen
By Pirks on 8/4/2006 7:48:46 PM , Rating: 1
so you think Apple will reverse the trend of declining marketshare over the past 10 years and triple growth?
No, I don't think it will "reverse" something that does not exist :) Apple was steadily increasing its US market share in recent times starting soon after OS X 10.1 release, and the rate is only accelerating - read some quarterly reports from Apple and pay attention to the number of Macs they've shipped each quarter.

Your blurb about tripling something I'll leave to you - there was no word "triple" in my post so you can keep it to yourself, thank you :-)

They now have less than 3% global market share of all personal computers sold.

Right, soo.. they have 0.001% in Russia and maybe 0.0001% in East Africa. I know that. Religious PC people like to quote some global or Russian or African numbers. Which is ok for religious guy believing in his own truth etc, but those with little less closed minds try to THINK (no, not different, just think :) and they soon understand that US market is a trend setter in computers. It's American companies like Intel, AMD, Apple, IBM, Sun and so on who set the world trends. If AMD loses US market - say buy to Mr. Ruiz. Same for Intel and everyone else. Then, after THINKING a while the not so closed minded person will ask herself - hmm, if the US market is the trend setter, why don't we look into just US market share and try to interpret it as prediction for the future global market share? You ever tried that? No, you didn't, you have too much religion in your head. If you level it down a bit and think what happens when the world follows USA and, say, the WORLD retail Apple notebook sales reach 12% of market - you know what you realize... so don't even try - like I said before - better stay in your cell and keep windows shut tight, otherwise you risk hurting your eyes :-)

And they achieved this near oblivion how?

Ask this question in any newly popped up Apple store, the best would be Manhattan's on 5th Avenue, but don't forget take videocamera with you and post the answers on YouTube - I gonna love this show!! Post here when you're done - this might beat even that cool star wars parody in there ;-))

By continuing to launch superior products at a competitive price points?

Well, you see, Dell and Sony also try to make iMac clones, I mean monoblock PCs, but they set the price twice higher, so what? Did THEY bankrupt? No, they didn't. See, if you turn on a bit of logic, and think (again this stupid word!) about it, you'll see that if company like Sony (or Dell) sells those overpriced monoblock desktop portables for the price MUCH HIGHER than similarly configured iMac, and still enjoys good financial health and nice market share (Sony and Dell enjoy that, and you agree, dontcha?), then how teh heck can they GET INTO OBLIVION if they release the same products CHEAPER than similar product of competitor's?

you MAC clones crack me up

You PC boneheads make me smile too. Your logic is pretty funny and definitely brings up a smile or two. Just imagine: oh, look, Dell was selling $4000 monoblock PC, and Dell's cool and great, now look! Apple sells the same monoblock PC for half a price of Dell - and what's gonna happen to Apple then? Of course APPLE WILL FINISH ITS LIFE IN TOTAL OBLIVION! And then somebody asks - why so? And you give your standard bonehead's answer - "because it's Apple, stupid!" Nice, very nice - keep it up, we all need our daily simles and you do it great! Thank you again :-)

RE: Amen
By Questar on 8/4/2006 9:52:33 PM , Rating: 2
Apples market share is increasing, and is currently at 4.8%.

RE: Amen
By Laitainion on 8/4/2006 5:59:29 PM , Rating: 2
Just a quick search:

Dell Latitude D620
Core Duo 2GHz, 1GB 667DDR2, 'Quadro NVS 110m 256MB' (no idea how good this is) and 14.1" 1440 by 900 screen comes to £1199 inc VAT

MacBook Pro
Core Duo 2GHz, 512MB 667DDR2, Mobility Radeon X1600 128MB, and 15.4" 1440 by 900 screen comes to £1399 inc VAT

2 roughly equally specced laptops, £200 price difference. No matter how good Apple's brand is, they can't keep double market share each year. Granted, I am an Apple hater, you couldn't pay me to buy anything from Apple, but do the maths people.

It is a *lot* easier to achieve impressive statistics such as 'double market share in a year' when you're market share is really low. If I sell one laptop this week, and sell 2 next week, I have doubled my market share in a week (just a hypothetical example). But if I sell 1'000 laptops in one week, it will be a lot harder to then sell 2'000 the next than in the previous scenario. Point is, I think Apple are going to start hitting the point where, although they are selling more laptops, and possibly the real number of people buying them is growing as fast as before, it certainly won't continue doubling each year. If it did, ib 2 years they'd have nearly 50% if the market, and that simply isn't going to happen.

RE: Amen
By Pirks on 8/4/2006 8:09:51 PM , Rating: 2
2 roughly equally specced laptops
Care to provide sie and weight of both? And maybe include some interesting stuff from MacBook Pro that you "forgot", like keyboard backlight, free fall sensor, web camera etc etc?

See, some people, like most AT readers, work purely with numbers - this is 2GHz and that is 3GHz, so the latter rocks and the former sucks. End of story. However, we live in the world where most of the population don't read AT and they also differ from you and me in many ways, so what do these people do? They like to compare not only GHz but also how the thing feels in work. So they come to a store, compare bulky Dell with thin light MacBook Pro and voila - another convert appears out there, the guy who dared to pay for such meager thing as size and weight... come on guys, just look at him! He just paid extra 200 pounds because his MacBook is lighet and thinner than Dell, and has this stupid keyboard backlight, jeez he stupid! And all AT forum will say "YEAH SUCKER" and then mod you up 'cause you're soo cool. But, the deal is - you guys are only 1% of the population, and the other 99% dares also to look at such blasphemous nooby parameters as weight, comfort and so on... yeah, too bad the world is not all about GHz - but people here will learn about it, maybe the hard way, but they will, sooner or later.
Apple are going to start hitting the point where, although they are selling more laptops, and possibly the real number of people buying them is growing as fast as before, it certainly won't continue doubling each year.
I never said it would be doubling every year forever and ever - I said "for several years". Maybe just two years and maybe the second year would be not pure double but closer to say 1.8 or 1.7 - nobody knows the future, but rapid Apple market share growth is only accelerating recently, I expect it to accelerate even more after Jobs will tease everyone with some sexy Leopard coolness and then deliver Conroe and Merom based Macs and maybe a megabomb like a Woodcrest-based Mac Pro. Sure, it will slow down later, but my guess it's not gonna happen before two years pass - Apple bug is on the rise and Vista does not look like a proper cure to me... I thought maybe they can stay on top with DX10 and WinFS but after WinFS was killed and after I read about Transgaming and Cider I now dounbt even that is gonna protect Vista after Leopard is out. Hehe, sounds like a wild life report :-)))

RE: Amen
By ksherman on 8/4/2006 9:14:20 PM , Rating: 2
Apple has recently been relativly successful. They do have some very competetively priced models, such as the mini, macbook/pro, and the iMac. I think their desktops are a pure waste of money. Sure they are in a pretty case, sure they have two dual core processors, but as I mentioned in a post earlier in this bout of news, they are severly lacking in almost EVERY other category. (Seriously, who buys a computer with a base cost of $3200USD that only has 250GB HD, 512MB of RAM, and a 6600 video card. thats just nuts... IMO anyway.

I think Apple will have a very difficult time increasing market share NEARLY as much as you predict. I am under the belief that Apple little house of cards is going to collapse reasonably soon. They hide behind this aura of flawless security. Its only a matter of time before OSX gets their viruses/hacks/exploits etc... make no mistake, it WILL. thats just life. Does that mean the security is like a slice of swiss cheese as Windows is/was? It is arguably more secure because, IMO OSX has a very small market share compared to the likes of MS, so they arent target as much.

As Apple gets further and further into the spot light, all their ignorant claims of superiority are going to fall. ANY report that says that a Mac has a vulnerability is going to me magnified in signifigance. Their compys can run windows now, great, super cool. But that also carries with it the security flaws that users were trying to get away from. Many of the "general" consumers will say, "Hey, i bought a Mac, im invulnerible to viruses and spy ware!! and I can run windows too!" are going to be terribly shocked when they start getting their favorite popups and the like. They will be angry, asking why they splurged for the price premium. It WILL happen, perhaps down the road, but it will. Apples Magic will fade a bit. I do agree the Jorbs and his crew do a good job of keeping us on the edge of our seat sometimes, at somepoint that will get old. Theres nothing like spending $1000+ on a computer that gets a whole new redesign every other year, or sooner. That will get old, albiet down the road.

If anything, what WILL help Apple's market share is their lappys. The MacBook is a super competetive laptop, being reasonably small and light, with decent battery life, superbe performance, and a good price to match it. If they put some type of dedicated graphics (like a 7300Go or the like) it would be a steal that their price. What Apple for sure needs to do is up the rez on their laptops, they are falling behind in that section. Their new desktops will help a lot too, as the Core2 is an INCREDIBLE process (obviously) and a TON of the users in the professional creative market will spend the dough on them and the new software to go with them. Not to mention, later this year they are likely to have a dual quad... which is just nutsy *drools*, and SUPER insanely expensive.

I am not an Apple hater, I am not a PC hater. I am one of those swing voters the politicians covet so much. I have only ever owned PCs, and I build them which makes me sympathetic to the cause of the PC. I also covet the Aluminum goodness of the PowerBook/MacBook Pro. Their are jsut damn sexy, but quite a bit outside my budget. I will thus compromise and go for a MacBook eventually, prolly next year when they get the SantaRosa based platform and the newer X1300 (or was it X3000?) Intel graphics... I also run OSX on my extra HD, just for fun.

well, thats enough out of me... Their is validity to both sides, but ultimately I feel that Apple users are due for a VERY rude awakening within the next year or so. I will pray for you ;-)

RE: Amen
By Pirks on 8/4/06, Rating: 0
RE: Amen
By ksherman on 8/4/2006 9:59:10 PM , Rating: 2
sherman, you're getting in the same old trap again and again - you compare modern desktop Wintels with ancient PowerPC Macs. When are you going to stop falling in the same manhole? Can't you see current Intel iMacs are VERY different both price-wise and feature-wise from old museum PPC PowerMacs? I don't even understand why you bother posting here comparing some museum Apple computers with modern Intel PCs - yeah, I CAN TOO compare Win 3.1 with Mac OS X 10.4.7 and you know what? Win 3.1 SUCKS! You don't buy my argument of comparing old technology to new one? THEN PLEASE DON'T USE SAME ARGUMENT YOURSELF, would you pleeaase??!

Those specs were still for shit when the Quad was released. Not enough hardware for the price, thats all im saying. You spend that much on a dell/alienware, you get a MUCH better Video Card/HD/Base RAM, even then (which was only about a year ago remember)

RE: Amen
By Pirks on 8/5/2006 1:30:22 AM , Rating: 1
Those specs were still for shit when the Quad was released. Not enough hardware for the price, thats all im saying.
Not enough hardware for PowerPC Quad? Excuse me? COULD YOU BUY PowerPC quad-core computer ANYWHERE ELSE BACK THEN? NO? Then put your sticker back and don't take it off until you understand this: "one can not compare apples and oranges, especially when there is one unique special apple (PPC Quad monster) and an ocean of similar looking oranges (your cheap beige Wintel PCs)"

Do you understand, sherman? You _can't_ compare them - they are WAY TOO DIFFERENT to be compared. Agreed?

If not - tell me why quad-core PPC computer is exactly the same as your standard issue Intel P4 Dell PC, gimme some solid technical arguments please. Thanks.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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