Venus wi-fi trap

September 1, 2006 / The MacBook hijack wager.

[Macbook closing]

In a ballsy move that even Stephen Colbert would have to respect, John Gruber (of Daring Fireball fame) has offered a hefty wager to David Maynor and Jon Ellch: he will give them a brand new MacBook if they can “hijack” it using a wi-fi exploit which they claim to have discovered. Gruber’s offer is the latest of several responses to an article by Brian Krebs of the Washington Post, that alleged that Maynor and Ellch had convincingly demonstrated said exploit. The day after the article was posted Gruber responded on Daring Fireball with extreme skepticism citing a lack of evidence from the hackers, and followed up with criticism of Krebs’ reporting citing confusion of key terms of the allegation. Furthermore, Apple claims that the Maynor and Ellch have not come forward with evidence that would substantiate their claims (such information sharing is common practice in the software industry).

Storm in a tea cup perhaps? Well, Krebs went all out to make it stick: the title of the original article was, “Hijacking a Macbook in 60 Seconds or Less.” If the claims are true it means that Apple’s most popular new machine has a serious security flaw of which they are still officially unaware. On his blog Gruber outlines fourteen conditions that have to be met in order for Maynor and Ellch to receive their free computer. The hackers must use a wi-fi attack to gain access to a MacBook with default software and hardware settings, and delete a file that Gruber has created and placed on the Desktop. If they fail to delete it but successfully crash or disable the system, the contest will be declared a draw and he keeps the computer. Gruber sums it up thusly:

It comes down to this. If I’m wrong, it’d be worth $1099 to know that MacBook users are in fact at risk. And if I’m right, someone needs to call Maynor and Ellch on their bullshit.

Pretty funny stuff. It will be interesting to watch the response as the challenge makes its way through the ether.

Addendum (September 4th)

Ahh, I see now that the mythical Macalope had already beaten me to the punch with his own Colbertism (well, at least I assume it’s a “he” Update: it’s a he: Macalope: About).

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