Apple Shares T2 Security Chip Guide Detailing Privacy Features 'Never Before Seen on Mac'

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Apple's event today included brief details about the company's T2 security chip coming to the MacBook Air and Mac mini (it's already in the 2018 MacBook Pro), but a new security guide has shed light onto what exactly the chip does for user privacy (via TechCrunch). According to the guide, on MacBook Air and Pro the chip includes a hardware microphone disconnect feature that ensures the microphone is disabled when the lid is closed.


This is accomplished through hardware so that the microphone becomes physically disabled from the rest of the MacBook hardware every time the lid is closed, preventing any software from engaging the microphone when the user shuts the MacBook. Apple points out that the camera is not disconnected in hardware, because its field of view is already completely obstructed when the MacBook lid is closed.

All Mac portables with the Apple T2 Security Chip feature a hardware disconnect that ensures that the microphone is disabled whenever the lid is closed. 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. (The camera is not disconnected in hardware because its field of view is completely obstructed with the lid closed.)

Apple says that the T2 chip gives Macs a solid foundation for encrypted storage, secure boot, and Touch ID, all based on dedicated security hardware and the Secure Enclave coprocessor included on the T2 chip. Combined with the security and convenience of Touch ID, Macs with the T2 chip provide "a level of privacy and security protections never before seen on Mac," according to Apple.

Besides its security features, the new 13-inch MacBook Air includes a Retina Display, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a headphone jack, 50 percent smaller display bezels, a reduced footprint, and more. Pre-orders for the device are live today, starting at $1,199.00, and the MacBook Air will officially launch on November 7.

Related Roundup: MacBook Air
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Air (Buy Now)

Top Rated Comments

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Avatar
21 months ago

Brilliant.

This level of care and respect for its customers is why I love, and buy from, Apple

I hope that was sarcasm.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
21 months ago
Aside from the fact that the software is better, the security alone is worth the price premium you pay to buy Apple products.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
21 months ago
Ehm, but what about when lid is open? T2 helps nothing if I understand correctly.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
21 months ago

According to the guide, on MacBook Air and Pro the chip includes a hardware microphone disconnect feature that ensures the microphone is disabled when the lid is closed.

I have a number of coworkers who use their laptops in clamshell mode, and connected to external monitors. What happens then? Will they have to get external microphones?
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
21 months ago

“Once those [90 failed password] attempts are exhausted, the Secure Enclave will no longer process any requests to decrypt the volume or verify the password.”

Erm... so some idiot could spend 20 minutes deliberately entering the wrong password into your Mac and you permanently lose all your data? Not sure how I feel about this.

That means you must also protect your Mac physically
Same as the iPhone that deletes all data after 10 failed passcode attempts, due to the delay enforced after multiple passcode attempts it will take you 1 hour and 36 minutes to delete my iPhone

Also due to the delay enforced, like iOS it will take several hours to permanently delete my data, and yes I have multiple backups of everything

Attempts Delay Enforced

1–14 none

15–17 1 minute

18–20 5 minutes

21–26 15 minutes

27–30 1 hour
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
21 months ago
Brilliant.

This level of care and respect for its customers is why I love, and buy from, Apple
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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