In a video presented at the Black Hat USA conference in early August, SecureWorks researcher David Maynor and Jon Ellch demonstrated hacking into a MacBook, setting off a flurry of press coverage about the insecurity of Wi-Fi-enabled computers from Apple and PC vendors.
Now it seems SecureWorks is backing away from its suggestion that MacBooks are just as vulnerable as other Wi-Fi-capable computers. The company has posted a disclaimer on its site to make it clear that the demonstration at Black Hat used a modified MacBook.
"This video presentation at Black Hat demonstrates vulnerabilities found in wireless device drivers," the disclaimer says. "Although an Apple MacBook was used as the demo platform, it was exploited through a third-party wireless device driver--not the original wireless device driver that ships with the MacBook. As part of a responsible disclosure policy, we are not disclosing the name of the third-party wireless device driver until a patch is available."
A responsible demonstration policy would have forbidden the installation of flawed drivers to make a point.
Apple sees the clarification as vindication. "Despite SecureWorks being quoted saying the Mac is threatened by the exploit demonstrated at Black Hat, they have provided no evidence that in fact it is," Apple spokesperson Lynn Fox said in a statement. "To the contrary, the SecureWorks demonstration used a third party USB 802.11 device " not the 802.11 hardware in the Mac " a device which uses a different chip and different software drivers than those on the Mac. To date, SecureWorks has not shared or demonstrated any code in relation to the Black Hat-demonstrated exploit that is relevant to the hardware and software that we ship."