Last weekend, DEF CON 27 took place in Las Vegas. As per usual, the world’s hacking convention featured the debut of several new terrifying technological innovations. One of this year’s most notable launches: an iPhone Lightning cable that can remotely hijack an owner’s computer.
How the Fake iPhone Lightning Cable Works
According to Motherboard, data security researcher MG made his fake iPhone lightning cables that look and function just like the real thing. The hacker notes on his blog he spent $4,000 and around 300 hours developing the prototype for his cables.
By all accounts, MG’s hard work paid off. The Trojan cable’s form factor is identical to the data transfer cables mass-produced by Apple, and they even feature similar packing material. But the O.MG Cables feature a few extra components allowing malicious users to hijack the systems of hapless device owners.
I will be dropping #OMGCables over the next few days of defcon.
I will also have 5g bags of DemonSeed, if that’s your thing.
Details and update here: https://t.co/0vJf68nxMx
— _MG_ (@_MG_) August 9, 2019
Once connected, the cable allows hackers to access a user’s computer system remotely. Through that uplink, a bad actor can upload malicious payloads and run whatever commands they like. Meanwhile, the device owner has no idea that the system has been compromised until the hacker initiates their attack.
Compounding the horror, the O.MG Cables have incredible range. MG told Motherboard a hacker could use the fake cable to take over a system from up to 300 feet. Furthermore, the data scientists noted his invention could be configured to sign on to a local Wi-Fi network. As such, hackers can wreak havoc on a target’s computer from a continent away.
Also, the O.MG Cable’s hijacking implant, which works with Linux, Mac, and Windows computers, has a remote kill feature. That means they can perform remote malicious operations and then be deactivated with the end-user none the wiser.
Despite their plainly malicious nature, the O.MG Cable tools will soon receive wide distribution.
MG wrote on Twitter he sold out of the small batch of handmade cables he brought to DEF CON despite pricing them at $200 each. The data security expert subsequently made a deal with data security product site Hak5 to sell generic versions of his invention.
Furthermore, he told Motherboard he plans on making Trojan data transfer cables for other devices now that he’s figured out how to subvert Apple’s architecture. Forbes states the O.MG Cable’s design makes them an ideal tool for intelligence agencies. Because of its open availability, it will also likely be used by black hat hackers.
As such, iPhone owners should probably avoid buying, accepting, or using any replacement lightning cables moving forward.