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A new chip in Apple’s latest line of MacBooks includes a feature designed to keep hackers from remotely activating your microphone. Known as the T2 security chip, the technology is used to protect users’ sensitive data including encryption keys and fingerprint data.
Apple, which is already using the T2 in this year’s MacBook Pro, revealed new details on the chip’s capabilities in a security paper published Tuesday.
In an attempt to keep spies or hackers from listening in on MacBook owners, the chip now forces the microphone to physically disconnect once the laptop’s lid is closed.
“This disconnect is implemented in hardware alone, and therefore prevents any software, even with root or kernel privileges in macOS, and even the software on the T2 chip, from engaging the microphone when the lid is closed,” the security paper states.
The company asserts the new feature enables “a level of privacy and security protections never before seen on Mac.”
As noted by TechCrunch, while certain tools are available to alert Mac users when their microphone or webcam is being accessed, a disconnect feature built at the hardware level offers much better security.
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Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.