A university researcher has found a new way to get around lock screens and logins to modern computers. The Thunderbolt ports, which were invented by Intel and have been installed into Mac and Windows computers for the entire last decade, transfer data at a very high speed. It is performed by a system called Direct Access Memory (DAM), which a Dutch master student Björn Ruyternberg has shown can be hijacked without knowing the computer’s login password.
As per the IT news, fixing of Thunderbolt vulnerability requires changes to be made in the hardware. Ruyternberg says that the only way to avoid the hack is by keeping the computers completely secure.
In response to that, Intel released a feature called “kernel DMA protection.” It helps in partially protecting against this hack. However, the workaround slows down the performance and puts a halt on the working of Thunderbolt accessories. It ultimately destroys the entire purpose of having these ports.
The feature of “kernel DMA protection” is only available on a limited number of computers, and a lot of models manufactured before 2019 were not covered.
The warning written for the protection of physical computers from hackers reads, “We encourage everyone to follow good security practices, including preventing unauthorized physical access to computers.”
It is not the first time security concerns have been raised about Intel’s Thunderbolt technology. In 2019, security researchers revealed a Thunderbolt vulnerability called “Thunderclap” that allowed seemingly innocuous USB-C or DisplayPort hardware to compromise a device. Such security issues are reportedly the reason why Microsoft has not added Thunderbolt connectors to its Surface devices.