“There’s a chip in the battery, a chip in the keyboard, a chip in the camera.” Mac Books are designed to prevent software running on the Mac Book’s central processing unit (CPU) from activating its i Sight camera without turning on the light.
But researchers figured out how to reprogram the chip inside the camera, known as a micro-controller, to defeat this security feature.
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.
In a paper called “i See You: Disabling the Mac Book Webcam Indicator LED,” Brocker and Checkoway describe how to reprogram the i Sight camera’s micro-controller to allow the camera and light to be activated independently.