Apple has detailed a new security feature that will prevent hackers from eavesdropping on your microphone. The newly released MacBook Air and Mac mini, that the company unveiled at its New York event on Tuesday, feature the Apple T2 Security Chip inbuilt. Apple has now revealed that the chip will ensure the MacBook Air's microphone is disconnected at a hardware level when users close the laptop's lid. The new feature will essentially make it difficult for malware to use software tricks to tap and record via the mics. Apple has highlighted all the benefits of the T2 Security Chip, where it also said that the camera is not disabled as part of this because the field of view is completely obstructed while the lid is closed.
In a security document published by Apple, first spotted by TechCrunch, the company has detailed some of the capabilities of the T2 Security Chip, including its 'hardware microphone disconnect' functionality that prevents hackers from tapping your microphone. To recall, the T2 Security Chip was first introduced with the iMac Pro back in 2017. It essentially protects the device's storage, fingerprint data, secure booth features, and encryption keys. As per the security guide, the T2 Security Chip has a hardware microphone disconnect feature that cuts the device's microphone whenever the user closed the lid.
"This disconnect is implemented in hardware alone, and therefore prevents any software, even with root or kernel privileges in macOS, and even the software on the T2 chip, from engaging the microphone when the lid is closed," Apple explains in the document. As mentioned, the camera isn't disconnected because, Apple says, its "field of view is completely obstructed with the lid closed."
Notably, the Apple T2 Security Chip is featured in the new Mac mini and MacBook Air. Apple notes that the new microphone hardware-level disconnect will only be available to "Apple portables". This means that the feature will be unavailable on the iMac and Mac mini models.
Apple claims that the T2 Security Chip makes for "unrivalled privacy and security features never before present on Mac." It says, "The features of the Apple T2 Security Chip are made possible by the combination of silicon design, hardware, software, and services available only from Apple. These capabilities combine to provide unrivalled privacy and security features never before present on Mac." Apart from the hardware microphone disconnect, other T2 Security Chip features like Secure Enclave, storage encryption, secure boot, and Touch ID have already been detailed by Apple.
The T2 Security Chip from Apple has already been proven to be useful for Mac users. Last month, researchers had discovered a security flaw that is said to put nearly all modern computers at risk for data theft. Regarding this, Apple had stated that the T2 Security Chip used in its Mac units already contains security measures to counter cold boot attacks.