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First-ever Mac firmware worm spreads without the need for networks

First-ever Mac firmware worm spreads without the need for networks
PHOTO COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK

The next time anyone tells you that "Macs are more secure than PCs," you just send them this article. It turns out that many serious, known PC firmware vulnerabilities are just as effective on Macs.

In fact, your Mac may be in real danger of an infection that can render it completely useless in no time. That's according to a new study by cybersecurity researchers who found Macs are nearly as vulnerable as PCs to firmware attacks.

While Macs may be somewhat safer from attacks and viruses than PCs, it doesn't mean Macs aren't at risk for some very serious problems. Worse, these vulnerabilities on Macs and PCs are extremely difficult to fix. (Read about another malicious Mac attack here.)

Last year, firmware security researchers found that about 80% of PCs are vulnerable to firmware attacks. That means the attacks are taking place deep within a computer's operating system. Once infected, it can become impossible to turn on your computer. It can also prevent security updates from downloading.

Now, these same researchers have found that Macs are vulnerable to five of the six vulnerabilities they tested. They developed a firmware worm called Thunderstrike 2 that replicates itself from one Mac to another Mac.

More troubling, they found that Macs don't even need to be connected to the Internet to spread these worms like crazy, passing from one Mac to the next. The worms first pop onto the Mac from an email or another connection.

But then they sit nearly undetectable on peripheral devices like an Ethernet adapter. If that adapter is then plugged to another Mac, the worm spreads.

The good news is that Apple has already created a patch for one vulnerability and is close to patching a second one. Keep reading Happening Now for Apple's ongoing patches for its firmware worm vulnerabilities.

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Source: Wired
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