MacDirectory Magazine

Spring-Summer 2010

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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Page 142 of 147

INTERVIEW HACKING APPLE MAC HACKER CHARLES MILLER TALKS WITH MACDIRECTORY ARTICLE BY ALISON FRIEDOW • INTERVIEW BY MARKIN ABRAS One thing is certain: You don’t want Charles Miller’s hands on your Mac. For those of us who believe our Macs are safe from hackers, Miller, a Principal Analyst at Independent Security Evaluators (ISE) and world- renowned hacker, says think again. Miller, an avid Mac user himself, has made a career out of exposing security bugs in computer operating systems and software, including those produced by Apple. For example, at a security conference this March, Miller won a $10,000 prize for exposing vulnerabilities in Mac OS X Snow Leopard and Safari, among other software. According to, over the last four years, Miller has become one of the world’s most famed Mac hackers. So, why do an interview with a Mac hacker? Aren’t hackers the enemies? On the contrary: Miller has information Apple users need. As an analyst for ISE, Miller has gained extensive knowledge about security flaws in Macs and other computers, and his opinions are not swayed by loyalty to a particular company. In fact, ISE is an independent security consulting firm whose mission is to provide clients with unbiased information • PHOTOS COURTESY OF CHARLES MILLER and solutions for improving the security of their products. about Macs, in fact they’re probably a little easier to break into, but really they are protected for the moment by their limited market share. MA > You have successfully exploited Apple products. What makes you the leading and fastest Apple hacker today? Lucky for us, Miller says Mac users need not panic about security threats, though they do exist. He was also willing to share some more of his insider hacker knowledge with us. In an interview with Markin Abras, founder and publisher of MacDirectory, Miller discusses issues related to the security of Macs as well as current trends in the security development industry. Markin Abras > It is said that “Apple products” are safer than Windows-based products. Is this really true or are hackers too busy hacking PC-based devices? Charles Miller > Both of your statements are true. They are safer exactly for the reason that not many criminals are looking at them. Most malware is written with the purpose of compromising as many hosts as possible, and that means Windows. There is nothing inherently more secure CM > Besides the fact I like and use Apple products, I think a lot of it is I was first to the party. There weren’t many researchers interested in Macs when I started looking at them so I got to find all the low hanging fruit. Apple products are way more secure now than three years ago. MA > How did your hacking skills change after working for the National Security Agency? CM > I can’t really talk about that, sorry. MA >What has been your most challenging project at Independent Security Evaluators consulting firm? CM > One time we were asked to reverse engineer a particular product. This product had very good anti reverse engineer features in it and it made it very difficult and frustrating to try to figure out what it was doing. MA >Why does the computing industry continue to face vulnerabilities and viruses? MacDirectory 141

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