Apple's new security chip kills access to microphone

An Apple Mac Mini, complete with T2 security chip. The chip will cut off microphone access when Macbooks' lids are shut. (Apple)


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The security community isn’t usually one to fawn over Apple’s product rollouts, but the computer giant gave it reason to issue some praise on Tuesday.

Apple released more details about its T2 security chip, which handles a number of security processes. The chip houses a device’s Secure Enclave, which protects encryption keys, fingerprint data and secure boot.

In a security pamphlet released after Apple’s press event on Tuesday, the company revealed that the chip will completely cut off access to the device’s microphone when the MacBook lid is shut.

“This disconnect is implemented in hardware alone, and therefore prevents any software, even with root or kernel privileges in macOS, and even the software on the T2 chip, from engaging the microphone when the lid is closed,” the pamphlet reads.

The power cut is only limited to the microphone, and not the camera, since the latter would be useless when a computer is shut.

The T2 chips are in the latest line of MacBook Pros, and will be in included in the new MacBook Airs and Mac Minis.

While Macs are generally considered to be among the more secure devices in the market, there have been instances of malware that allow people to take over Mac users’ webcams. Earlier this year, the Department of Justice charged an Ohio man for creating Fruitfly, malware that can take complete control of a computer, including secretly turning on cameras and microphones to record video and audio.

You can read more about the T2 chip¬†in Apple’s pamphlet.

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Apple, hardware, t2