MacBook Model Battery “At Risk” To Hacking: Here’s How

We knew by our readers’ comments that the refreshed MacBook Air 2011 devices were a huge talking point and finally this week, came the news that many had been waiting on, new official models, specs and pricing. The four models being retailed will include a base and top ended 11.6-inch and bigger base and top ended 13.3-inch. Circulating rumors of new Thunderbolt port and Intel Sandy Bridge processor inclusion resulted in truth, but its the news today that’s got everybody talking.

Just steering away from the MacBooks for one moment, a big problem that has arisen within the last few months is the issue of companies being hacked. Security for some including Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, the US Senate and so on has all been compromised resulting at times with users’ personal information falling into the wrong hands. Unfortunately the issue of data security may have to be looked at in relation to Apple MacBooks and the battery which is used.

According to Slashgear, batteries used in up-to-date laptops, if hacked, could pose a big risk to users’ information. Devices from Apple such as the MacBook Pro, MacBook and MacBook Air batteries were all looked into by hacker Charlie Miller who as AppleInsider stated works for Accuvant. It was found that they all incorporate their own firmware and as reported, microcontrollers therefore assess power levels, this in turn allows the OS to respond in the manner needed. A device can even be turned off and the lithium ion battery inside would know when to halt its charging as well as gauging heat levels.

Miller was keen to point out that the Mac laptops, all include embedded chips within the batteries which in turn contain the same default passwords, this if a hacker is clued up and knows the password, would then result in the chip’s firmware being influenced and the battery being able to deliver chaos within the system. Tests resulted in some seven batteries being “bricked” which made them unusable and more worrying is that hackers would install hard to remove malware, which could and we say could result in the batteries exploding.

Results of Miller’s research have been sent to Steve Jobs Apple company as well as Texas Instruments with a possible fix called “Caulkgun,” the battery’s firmware default password could then be replaced with a varied collection of characters.

In a statement from Miller it was said, “These batteries just aren’t designed with the idea that people will mess with them. What I’m showing is that it’s possible to use them to do something really bad.”

What are your thoughts on this? Have/are you in the process of buying a new MacBook Air 2011 and if so which model?