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Fortunately, the FBI was able to identify a suspect: her high school classmate, a man named Jared Abrahams. W., later identified herself on Twitter as Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf.The FBI says it found software on Abrahams’s computer that allowed him to spy remotely on her and numerous other women. While her case was instant fodder for celebrity gossip sites, it left a serious issue unresolved.He says that cheap RATs like the one used in Merion High School may not have the ability to disable the hardware LEDs, but “you would probably expect more sophisticated surveillance offerings which cost hundreds of thousands of euros” to be stealthier.He points to commercial surveillance products such as Hacking Team and Fin Fisher that are marketed for use by governments.“People are starting to think about what happens when you can reprogram each of those,” Miller says.For example, he demonstrated an attack last year on the software that controls Apple batteries, which causes the battery to discharge rapidly, potentially leading to a fire or explosion.One laptop, many chips The built-in cameras on Apple computers were designed to prevent this, says Stephen Checkoway, a computer science professor at Johns Hopkins and a co-author of the study.
But researchers figured out how to reprogram the chip inside the camera, known as a micro-controller, to defeat this security feature.
In the video below, we demonstrate how the camera can be activated without triggering the telltale warning light.
Attacks that exploit microcontrollers are becoming more common.
For example, it can make it easier for a school’s IT staff to administer a classroom full of computers.
Indeed, the devices the researchers studied were similar to Mac Books involved in a notorious case in Pennsylvania in 2008.
Their research is under consideration for an upcoming academic security conference.