The security of the Apple M1 chip violated by PACMAN

Apple M1 chip

Although Apple has recently presented the M2 chips, it must be taken into account that now what exists on the market is the previous one. The M1 chip that is giving such good results and that has become one of the cornerstones of the best Apple devices: Macs. Later it was extended to the iPad, but what is really important is its effectiveness, efficiency in the computers of the american company. It was also established as a chip whose security had been tested and increased. However, knowing that 100% security does not exist, we have already managed to break the chip. It has been done thanks to PACMAN.

Under perfect conditions and detailed study, the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) of the MIThas discovered a flaw in Apple’s M1 chip.

Through a mixed attack that has been called PACMAN, it has been possible to overcome the security imposed by Apple on these chips. Those who have meant beginning of Apple’s transition to a new life without Intel.

The fault on which PACMAN acts is found in the pointer authentication code (PAC) which is nothing more than a security mechanism that protects the system against attacks, losses and memory corruption vulnerabilities.

The problem with this security vulnerability is that cannot be patched via software, because the attack, as we have said, is mixed. It combines memory corruption with random execution attacks to bypass pointer authentication codes.

Such random or speculative execution is often used by processors to improve performance. They are guessing or speculating the lines of code they have to process. While pointer authentication is a cryptographic signature that confirms whether an application is infected by malware. In this way, PACMAN takes advantage of this speculation to guess the code.

Joseph Ravichandran, co-author of the research, said: “Pointer authentication as a last line of defense not as absolute as we once thought it was«.

The dangerous thing is that it could affect all chips with ARM architecture, so the M2 could be affected.

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