Hacking an Apple Battery to Explode?

A newly discovered exploit may not only allow hackers to drain your laptop battery, but also use it to kill you. While not quite like having C4 planted inside your gaming rig, it may cause some absurdly superstitious people to think twice before using their laptop.

Discovered by Charlie Miller, a security researcher known for hacking Safari, the exploit allows a hacker to take control of a Macbook battery’s voltage current controls. The hacker can then fool the system into thinking the battery is undercharged, making the controller overcharge the cell, possibly causing a fire or even an explosion:

“Lithium-ion batteries are potentially dangerous, and it’s possible that futzing with the parameters could cause the battery to fail at best, or explode at worst,” Miller said. “I know there are internal fuses and other safeguards to prevent that from happening, and I never did it myself, but there’s certainly potential to get some malware to rewrite the smart battery firmware and cause some catastrophic failure.”

The hack is made possible due to a blunder by Apple in using default passwords for the microcontroller that interacts with the Smart Battery System, thus allowing a complete rewrite of the SBS’s firmware.

While far-fetched, it would most definitely not be pleasant if your laptop/tablet/phone were to suddenly explode in your face; whether it’s an act of vengeance or just for teh lulz. Be sure to keep this away from Lulzsec. And Skynet. And this guy.

Ars Technica