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(PCWorld)   Macbook batteries can be hacked to explode, lead to the hipster holocaust of 2012   (pcworld.com) divider line 54
    More: Scary, MacBook, microcontrollers, MacBook Air, black hats, malware, MacBook Pro, Mac OS, Chargers  
•       •       •

4298 clicks; posted to Geek » on 23 Jul 2011 at 8:50 PM (3 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



54 Comments   (+0 »)
   

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2011-07-23 05:31:25 PM  
iQaeda?
 
2011-07-23 05:55:25 PM  
Not news to anyone in the security industry.
 
2011-07-23 06:31:44 PM  
I believe the rest of it, but I won't believe the claim that you can blow up a battery remotely until someone demonstrates it.
 
2011-07-23 06:45:33 PM  

acanuck: iQaeda?


That was awesome. ...

Now I've lost my train of thought. Oh. Yes: Hipstercaust. ... "But it exploded must faster than a PC." ... "Look at this shrapnel. Light. Fluffy." ... "No, technically it's not a virus." ... "I bet Windows can't do this!"
 
2011-07-23 06:48:38 PM  
"Look, Coppertop. Right now there's one rule: OUR way or the highway."

www.matrix-explained.com


acanuck: iQaeda?


iLOL
 
2011-07-23 06:51:24 PM  

Sudo_Make_Me_A_Sandwich: I believe the rest of it, but I won't believe the claim that you can blow up a battery remotely until someone demonstrates it.


Once you get control off the battery's guts, it's just a matter of disabling the safeguards. There is usually something in each battery that tells it when to stop charging and stop accepting power. Disabling that is pretty trivial once you get into the hardware like this guy did.
 
2011-07-23 07:12:07 PM  

Cubansaltyballs: There is usually something in each battery that tells it when to stop charging and stop accepting power.


And that something usually includes a hardware safeguard, like a temperature-based thermocouple.

Disabling that is pretty trivial once you get into the hardware like this guy did.

Bullshiat. Even he says he has no idea how to do it.
 
2011-07-23 07:19:15 PM  
Yep. As I said, temp-based thermocouples. From the Forbes article:
And the truly disturbing prospect of a hacker remotely blowing up a battery on command? Miller didn't attempt that violent trick, but believes it might be possible. "I work out of my home, so I wasn't super inclined to cause an explosion there," he says.

In fact, the batteries he examined have other safeguards against explosions: fuses that contain an alloy that melts at high temperatures to break the circuit and prevent further charging.


And as for the idea that it's pretty trivial?
But Miller, who has worked for the National Security Agency and subsequently hacked everything from the iPhone to virtual worlds, believes it might still be possible. "You read stories about batteries in electronic devices that blow up without any interference," he says. "If you have all this control, you can probably do it."

... in other words, he's just guessing, and has no idea. Batteries sometimes explode when the hardware safeguards are defective... so therefore, some special software might be able to go back in time and make those hardware safeguards be manufactured poorly!

www.heymister.net
For his next trick, he's going to Hack the Gibson in high-res 3D on a Powerbook 540.
 
2011-07-23 07:35:43 PM  
That's one way to keep them from procreating.
 
2011-07-23 07:38:25 PM  

Cubansaltyballs: Disabling that is pretty trivial once you get into the hardware like this guy did.


Then it shouldn't be a big deal for someone to do that on an old laptop and post the video online. Until then, nope, not convinced.
 
2011-07-23 09:01:15 PM  

Theaetetus: Yep. As I said, temp-based thermocouples. From the Forbes article:
And the truly disturbing prospect of a hacker remotely blowing up a battery on command? Miller didn't attempt that violent trick, but believes it might be possible. "I work out of my home, so I wasn't super inclined to cause an explosion there," he says.

In fact, the batteries he examined have other safeguards against explosions: fuses that contain an alloy that melts at high temperatures to break the circuit and prevent further charging.

And as for the idea that it's pretty trivial?
But Miller, who has worked for the National Security Agency and subsequently hacked everything from the iPhone to virtual worlds, believes it might still be possible. "You read stories about batteries in electronic devices that blow up without any interference," he says. "If you have all this control, you can probably do it."

... in other words, he's just guessing, and has no idea. Batteries sometimes explode when the hardware safeguards are defective... so therefore, some special software might be able to go back in time and make those hardware safeguards be manufactured poorly!

[www.heymister.net image 640x469]
For his next trick, he's going to Hack the Gibson in high-res 3D on a Powerbook 540.


Don't worry. He's hidden behind seven proxies. Or what is that on Macs, Archive Utility?
 
2011-07-23 09:07:51 PM  

Sudo_Make_Me_A_Sandwich: Cubansaltyballs: Disabling that is pretty trivial once you get into the hardware like this guy did.

Then it shouldn't be a big deal for someone to do that on an old laptop and post the video online. Until then, nope, not convinced.


You mean an old laptop without the same embedded system? You shall remain unconvinced eternally.
 
2011-07-23 09:11:45 PM  
Yeah, I used to like the Cuban Missile Crisis before it went mainstream.
 
2011-07-23 09:20:32 PM  
Old news.

www.feldarkrealms.com
 
2011-07-23 09:20:48 PM  
If there's some kind of hardware kill-switch against exploding batteries, I don't think we'll see a way to bypass that with software unless Apple did it amazingly wrong, but I'll keep my mind open to the concept. Besides that, I think it's interesting but not really practical with the intent of malware shifted from causing mayhem to profiting by identity theft or ransom.

Actually, I don't really know much about batteries, but if there's a hardware safeguard that breaks the circuit at high temperatures, would that be a permanent break where it's unchargable after that point and you need to pay to replace the battery? That's the best idea I can think of to hold a Macbook hostage with something like this.
 
2011-07-23 09:38:37 PM  

Sudo_Make_Me_A_Sandwich: Cubansaltyballs: Disabling that is pretty trivial once you get into the hardware like this guy did.

Then it shouldn't be a big deal for someone to do that on an old laptop and post the video online. Until then, nope, not convinced.


You're not convinced there's a flaw or you're not convinced it can be done?
 
2011-07-23 09:41:58 PM  

Theaetetus: Cubansaltyballs: There is usually something in each battery that tells it when to stop charging and stop accepting power.

And that something usually includes a hardware safeguard, like a temperature-based thermocouple.

Disabling that is pretty trivial once you get into the hardware like this guy did.

Bullshiat. Even he says he has no idea how to do it.


Apple also said their computers were completely invulnerable to every type of attack imaginable.
 
2011-07-23 09:47:53 PM  
This sounds a bit less than near-fetched to me.
 
2011-07-23 09:49:48 PM  

Cubansaltyballs: Theaetetus: Cubansaltyballs: There is usually something in each battery that tells it when to stop charging and stop accepting power.

And that something usually includes a hardware safeguard, like a temperature-based thermocouple.

Disabling that is pretty trivial once you get into the hardware like this guy did.

Bullshiat. Even he says he has no idea how to do it.

Apple also said their computers were completely invulnerable to every type of attack imaginable.


Discerning people can easily detect hyperbole or puffery, like "our computers are completely invulnerable" or "I totes know how to make a battery asplode, I just don't want to, yeah, that's it."

(and then there's you. But that's cute, too, I guess)
 
2011-07-23 09:51:46 PM  

Theaetetus: Discerning people can easily detect hyperbole or puffery, like "our computers are completely invulnerable" or "I totes know how to make a battery asplode, I just don't want to, yeah, that's it."

(and then there's you. But that's cute, too, I guess)


When Apple and Apple users say "Our computers are just secure. We don't need antivirus because they cannot get malware or viruses"... that means they are saying they are completely invulnerable.
 
2011-07-23 09:53:21 PM  
I think it's a travesty that Apple is forcing people to hack the expensive laptops in order to have the same feature that Dell provided standard a few years ago.
 
2011-07-23 09:59:30 PM  

Cubansaltyballs: Sudo_Make_Me_A_Sandwich: Cubansaltyballs: Disabling that is pretty trivial once you get into the hardware like this guy did.

Then it shouldn't be a big deal for someone to do that on an old laptop and post the video online. Until then, nope, not convinced.

You're not convinced there's a flaw or you're not convinced it can be done?


I'm not convinced he's the edgiest sceptic in the room. I think he should go on for 5 more paragraphs about how he's not convinced.
 
2011-07-23 10:06:23 PM  
img689.imageshack.us
 
2011-07-23 10:09:14 PM  
It's a feature. It's Steve Jobs way of forcing you to upgrade.
 
2011-07-23 10:12:37 PM  
imgs.xkcd.com
 
2011-07-23 10:38:51 PM  

Cubansaltyballs: When Apple and Apple users say "Our computers are just secure. We don't need antivirus because they cannot get malware or viruses"... that means they are saying they are completely invulnerable.


And Apple totally said that! Yes, they did! [pat, pat]

Anyway, your pudding's getting cold, and the adults have discussions to have, so run along, love.
 
2011-07-23 10:49:00 PM  

Cubansaltyballs: When Apple and Apple users say "Our computers are just secure. We don't need antivirus because they cannot get malware or viruses"... that means they are saying they are completely invulnerable.


1) No it doesn't
2) Apple doesn't say that
3) Users may say that. I certainly don't run any antivirus because there's not enough in the wild for me to worry about and honestly, I have never found an antivirus program that wasn't nearly as bad as the disease. The one time I got a virus it was Anti-CMOS A, which couldn't even be fixed with an antivirus program anyway. I had to flash the BIOS. Not having any spare jumpers, I bridged the gap with a screwdriver. This makes me the only person I know that killed a virus with a screwdriver.
 
2011-07-23 10:51:08 PM  
IDIOTS:I USE A MAC BECAUSE THEY'RE LESS VULNERABLE TO VIRUSES

WELL AT LEAST PC VIRUSES WON'T BLOW UP MY EFFING LAPTOP.

img189.imageshack.us
 
2011-07-23 11:00:13 PM  

Theaetetus: And Apple totally said that! Yes, they did! [pat, pat]

Anyway, your pudding's getting cold, and the adults have discussions to have, so run along, love.


So... I'm not invited to the "adult conversation" about how wonderful and infallible Apple products are? How they've never ever ever been taken over by a virus because Apple software is completely secure and would never let a virus run, and if it did the users are too smart to allow it?

I'll pass.
 
2011-07-23 11:38:22 PM  
This was around circa the late 90's when some Dell's or HP's came stock with a built in UPC, turns out you could override it and let the UPC battery keep charging till it overheated and slagged itself. Anyways in the article they talk about slagging the battery which is more of the concern. This is very easily remedied by using ROM for the battery or hardware, just as it would be very hard for a virus to flash itself to your bios.

to my knowledge this would just slag the battery, not cause it to catch fire... it's extremely rare for one to explode!
 
2011-07-23 11:41:21 PM  

Land Ark: I think it's a travesty that Apple is forcing people to hack the expensive laptops in order to have the same feature that Dell provided standard a few years ago.


Now now, Apple provided it as a standard feature as well. I've had the same issue with both my Dell laptop and my MacBook. Dell just apologized and replaced everything overnight, Apple took nearly two weeks.

/never buying an Apple product again because of their crappy customer service alone
//the fact that their products seem to have more defects than even my cheap Dell doesn't help either
/they also went out of their way to piss off Doctor Who fans, that finally convinced me
 
2011-07-23 11:46:22 PM  

Cubansaltyballs: Theaetetus: And Apple totally said that! Yes, they did! [pat, pat]

Anyway, your pudding's getting cold, and the adults have discussions to have, so run along, love.

So... I'm not invited to the "adult conversation" about how wonderful and infallible Apple products are? How they've never ever ever been taken over by a virus because Apple software is completely secure and would never let a virus run, and if it did the users are too smart to allow it?

I'll pass.


Are you five years old? You sure act like it on this site.
 
2011-07-24 12:18:11 AM  

YouWinAgainGravity: I'll pass.

Are you five years old? You sure act like it on this site.


I don't get it. Is this the new Apple thing? When an imperfection in your idol is found you call the people that acknowledge it a child?
 
2011-07-24 12:35:34 AM  
Honestly I don't see what the big deal is here, pretty much anything these days can be hacked..
 
2011-07-24 12:38:10 AM  

Cubansaltyballs: YouWinAgainGravity: I'll pass.

Are you five years old? You sure act like it on this site.

I don't get it. Is this the new Apple thing? When an imperfection in your idol is found you call the people that acknowledge it a child?


You'll understand, once you're potty trained.
 
2011-07-24 12:38:25 AM  
If the author of this article can't produce proof of concept of this in the form of video or photos of bulging battery cells he shouldn't have published this article.

Even when the Dell Latitude D600 battery packs were suffering catastrophic failures nobody wrote articles about it until someones laptop actually caught fire and burned a hole in a table.
 
2011-07-24 12:40:47 AM  

nz1jvb: Honestly I don't see what the big deal is here, pretty much anything these days can be hacked..


You don't see the big deal in the ability to remotely burn someone's house down?

Assuming of course, that this can actually be done.
 
2011-07-24 12:45:14 AM  
Imagine If this exploit was real enough for 'The Terrorists' to get a hold of and execute with no user interaction. You could spam the exploit out to every IP address in North America, and every single effected macbook connected to the net would burst into flames.


Of course, the chances of an exploit like that existing are pretty non existent to the point of it being a laughable thought.
 
2011-07-24 12:51:59 AM  

fluffy2097: You don't see the big deal in the ability to remotely burn someone's house down?


Not really. Anyone who gets infected deserves to be taken off the internets by force.

If we could take over the massive PC botnets and push out code to burn all their houses down, too, that would be peachy.
 
2011-07-24 01:16:55 AM  

fluffy2097: nz1jvb: Honestly I don't see what the big deal is here, pretty much anything these days can be hacked..

You don't see the big deal in the ability to remotely burn someone's house down?

Assuming of course, that this can actually be done.


and I guess assuming everyone who owns a mac lives in a tent
 
2011-07-24 01:31:27 AM  

Lamune_Baba: If we could take over the massive PC botnets and push out code to burn all their houses down, too, that would be peachy.


I'd rather just find some way to fry their processor without starting a fire, and keep a bunch of firefighters from having to risk their lives.

/Someone is going to have to take a risk to put out these fires after all.
 
2011-07-24 01:50:13 AM  

t3knomanser: Cubansaltyballs: When Apple and Apple users say "Our computers are just secure. We don't need antivirus because they cannot get malware or viruses"... that means they are saying they are completely invulnerable.

1) No it doesn't
2) Apple doesn't say that
3) Users may say that. I certainly don't run any antivirus because there's not enough in the wild for me to worry about and honestly, I have never found an antivirus program that wasn't nearly as bad as the disease. The one time I got a virus it was Anti-CMOS A, which couldn't even be fixed with an antivirus program anyway. I had to flash the BIOS. Not having any spare jumpers, I bridged the gap with a screwdriver. This makes me the only person I know that killed a virus with a screwdriver.


A. Gee, thanks, Typhoid Mary/MacGyver*.
B Clamav - it's what's built into OS X Server. ClamXav even has a GUI. (To scan your email - see A.)

*Some puns just type themselves.
 
2011-07-24 03:51:54 AM  

DragoonDM: Old news.

[www.feldarkrealms.com image 600x517]


Came to post this...

angstycoder: [imgs.xkcd.com image 345x478]


and pleased to see this as a bonus

/leaves doubly satisfied.
 
2011-07-24 08:28:47 AM  

demaL-demaL-yeH: A. Gee, thanks, Typhoid Mary/MacGyver*.


There hasn't been a documented case of me passing a virus along, either. Probably because I generally don't transmit things that contain executable code, like Word documents. And running a virus scanner to clean my email wouldn't help, since my email never actually lands on my computer. I'll let GMail worry about that crap.
 
2011-07-24 11:14:25 AM  
Meh. It's been done.
macorstock.com
/hindenbook
 
2011-07-24 01:39:41 PM  
farm4.static.flickr.com

www.techxilla.com

Exploding batteries? It's a feature in many Apple products.
 
2011-07-24 02:24:16 PM  
So instead of FIXING the problem with a firmware update, or using a different battery in manufacturing, they just decided to trash the whole product. Smart.
Gee, I guess the fact that even if you discontinue a product, the fact that there are still millions of units floating around and in use never crossed their minds.

Why don't they just ban all laptops from planes? Because frequent fliers would avoid your airline like the plague.

Why is Apple Corporate being so retarded lately?
 
2011-07-24 03:04:30 PM  

colithian: So instead of FIXING the problem with a firmware update, or using a different battery in manufacturing, they just decided to trash the whole product. Smart.
Gee, I guess the fact that even if you discontinue a product, the fact that there are still millions of units floating around and in use never crossed their minds.

Why don't they just ban all laptops from planes? Because frequent fliers would avoid your airline like the plague.

Why is Apple Corporate being so retarded lately?


I'd be surprised if you could update the firmware on the charging circuitry of a battery that is physically soldered to the device it operates like most Macs these days.

Besides making you throw it out and buy a whole new one means more money for them so it's only logical to do from a business standpoint.
 
2011-07-24 03:37:02 PM  
RoxtarRyan

Exploding batteries? It's a feature in many Apple products.

My boss had his laptop battery bulge apart like that. Took it to a "genius bar" or some such, and showed them how their hardware was literally coming apart at the seams. All he wanted was a replacement.

Apple's response was that they were aware of the issue, and that he had gotten four years out of the battery which they deemed acceptable. Then they offered to sell him a new battery.

Just an unreal attitude of arrogance and indifference to their defective hardware. I'm astounded that people put up with this crap.

/I have never purchased an Apple product, and I never will.
 
2011-07-24 04:00:33 PM  

fluffy2097: colithian: So instead of FIXING the problem with a firmware update, or using a different battery in manufacturing, they just decided to trash the whole product. Smart.
Gee, I guess the fact that even if you discontinue a product, the fact that there are still millions of units floating around and in use never crossed their minds.

Why don't they just ban all laptops from planes? Because frequent fliers would avoid your airline like the plague.

Why is Apple Corporate being so retarded lately?

I'd be surprised if you could update the firmware on the charging circuitry of a battery that is physically soldered to the device it operates like most Macs these days.

Besides making you throw it out and buy a whole new one means more money for them so it's only logical to do from a business standpoint.


Except Macbooks have always sold better than Macbook Airs, because most people like having a CD drive and more than one usb port.
They discontinued the iPod mini because the nano became able to hold twice as much music as the mini, so having a mini would be pointless if you can get more music in a smaller and cheaper package. THAT is good business sense.
I was saying that they could make it impossible to hack the battery through the software or just develop a completely different battery that people would buy if they were told that their laptop could explode. They could price-jack the shiat out of it and say that everyone's macbook warranty is void unless they get this new battery. That is good business sense. Remember the Sony battery fiasco?

Even better, remember this?
farm3.static.flickr.com

People ignored that. Why? Because "hackers" that make viruses and shiat may be the ultimate trolls trying to ruin everyone's day, but even the most hardcore trolls don't actually want to directly hurt people. The Macbook has been out for YEARS. If this is such a pressing concern, why hasn't anyone exploited this before? The Sony battery fiasco was accidental, no one "hacked" people's computers to make the battery fail. But now that you can do it on purpose you have to take the whole product off the market? So when it was actually dangerous because it could happen at ANY TIME, they didn't take it off the market. They started using better batteries. WHY IS THIS SUDDENLY DIFFERENT?

All these bad decisions lately make it seem like Apple replaced their Director of Product Development with a helmet-wearing mouth-breather.
 
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