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“There’s more than one chip on your computer,” says Charlie Miller, a security expert at Twitter.“There’s a chip in the battery, a chip in the keyboard, a chip in the camera.” Mac Books are designed to prevent software running on the Mac Book’s central processing unit (CPU) from activating its i Sight camera without turning on the light.Oh, and yeah, insert the obligatory NSA/PRISM joke here.The woman was shocked when she received two nude photos of herself by e-mail.But Checkoway and his co-author, Johns Hopkins graduate student Matthew Brocker, were able to get around this security feature.That’s because a modern laptop is actually several different computers in one package.Also, it’ll take a picture of you, though the author claims he’s not storing them — but clarifies that someone could, if they wanted).
I’d actually generally avoid writing about things like this, if it were new, to keep the word from spreading before the companies got a chance to fix it — but these techniques are already well known in the hacking world.
The photos had been taken over a period of several months — without her knowledge — by the built-in camera on her laptop.
Fortunately, the FBI was able to identify a suspect: her high school classmate, a man named Jared Abrahams. W., later identified herself on Twitter as Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf.
Now research from Johns Hopkins University provides the first public confirmation that it’s possible to do just that, and demonstrates how.
While the research focused on Mac Book and i Mac models released before 2008, the authors say similar techniques could work on more recent computers from a wide variety of vendors.