In brief: Apple’s phones and computers have a reputation for offering better security than their Android and PC counterparts, but they’re not infallible. The iPhone’s Lightning cable, for example, can be altered so a hacker can gain remote access to a victim’s computer.
We first heard about these O.MG cables earlier this year. At the annual Def Con hacking conference, the security researcher behind the device, who is known as MG, offered more information on his creation.
“It looks like a legitimate cable and works just like one. Not even your computer will notice a difference. Until I, as an attacker, wirelessly take control of the cable,” he said.
As it’s pretty much impossible to distinguish the cable from a legitimate Apple product, it would be easy to swap the modified version with a target’s real one without them realizing. It could also be given as a gift to an unsuspecting victim.
The cable contains an implant that allows the hack to take place. They perform the same functions as expected, but once it’s connected to a Mac, hackers can access the computer via a Wi-Fi hotspot it creates. They also have a remote kill switch to hide their presence.
Attackers can be up to 300 feet away from a cable and still hack into a Mac, but the distance can be increased by using an antenna. MG told Vice that “the cable can be configured to act as a client to a nearby wireless network. And if that wireless network has an internet connection, the distance basically becomes unlimited."
MG wants to create the O.MG cables as legitimate security products and says the Hak5 company is prepared to sell them—though they will be created from scratch, rather than being altered Apple ones. Def Con customers are being offered early access to the tools, which have a $200 price tag.