Fake iPhone Lightning Cables Give Hackers Wireless Access To Macs

Apple Lightning to USB Cable
Apple Lightning to USB Cable (Photo: Richard Unten(CC BY 2.0))

There is a fake Apple charging cable that can be potentially used by attackers to hack into a victim's devices.

A security researcher called Mike Grover, known online as MG, has designed a fake Lightning cable that's exactly alike with the chargers used in iPhones. Dubbed the O.MG, MG says it could be used to hijack a laptop or PC just by plugging in.

When used into a Mac, Windows, or Linux computer with via Wi-Fi the O.MG Cable will allow a hacker to take over the system and carry out commands via remote access. Grover introduced the cable at the DefCon cybersecurity convention last week, which showed off what he calls an under-investigated area of mobile security.

"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 in an interview. What the cable does is trick the computer into thinking that's what plugged in is a part of an input device or HID, short for human interface device.

When successfully connected via the cable's IP address, hackers can then use commands and move around the device. A malicious attack can be easily performed, including running malicious payloads, downloading malware, or opening up software.

But the O.MG Cable is only a prototype, according to Grover. If this goes on sale for the public, it can be used to reconfigure systems, remove devices from Wi-Fi connections, launch malware, or anything that criminals can take advantage of.

Grover says that he spent countless hours and thousands of dollars to work on the fake Lightning cable, which took four hours each to assemble. He also worked with several other hackers to write some of the code and develop exploits, and gave away his supply of hand-built cables to Def Con attendees with a plan to sell them online in the near future, he said.

Since it's just a prototype, GM still has more plans with the O.MG cable. He said he's going to expand its feature set and improve its functionality.

"It really just comes down to time and resources at this point. I have a huge list in my head that needs to become reality," Grover said.

Grover said that the O.MG cable is a personal project of his, but it has the potential to help defend different kinds of threats when used right.

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