Why the PACMAN Exploit Is Proof You Should Always Update Your Mac

Every piece of technology comes with the risk of bugs and security flaws, but Macs running on Apple’s M1 chips are obviously vulnerable to a whole new category of threats. Security researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have discovered a hardware exploit dubbed “PACMAN” that could theoretically allow someone to bypass security checks at the Mac device’s hardware and deploy malicious code.

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The PACMAN attack bypasses the Apple M1 CPU Pointer Authentication Code (PAC), which normally blocks unauthorized changes to the Mac operating system or other data. However, there must be a pre-existing bug that an attacker can use to bypass the PAC, such as bugs that are fixed with regular security updates. Hypothetically, if the user does not immediately install these critical updates, it could leave them vulnerable to a PACMAN exploit.

Think of it this way: your Mac’s PAC is like the ghost that PACMAN usually interferes with, but unpatched software bugs are like the energy pellets that PACMAN eats that make your ghost vulnerable to its rodents.

MIT researchers have warned Apple of the risk, but because the flaw exists at the hardware level, it cannot be fixed like firmware or software bugs. While this sounds pretty bad, it’s important to note that the PACMAN attack is just a proof-of-concept attack created by MIT researchers for testing purposes. There is no evidence of such an attack in the wild. In fact, Apple’s official stance is that PACMAN poses no “immediate risk” to regular users. “Based on our analysis, as well as the details shared with us by the researchers, we have concluded that this issue does not pose an immediate risk to our users and is not sufficient to bypass device security on its own, ” the company said. from TechCrunch .

Even if PACMAN doesn’t attack the security of your M1 Mac anytime soon, its existence is a good reminder to always install macOS updates as soon as possible – you never know what new tricks a hacker might pull on an unpatched device.

[ beeping computer ]

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