New MacBook Air’s T2 chip protects your mic from hackers | Cult of Mac

New MacBook Air’s T2 chip protects your mic from hackers


T2 chip
Apple's most secure laptop yet.
Photo: Apple

Tapping into a Mac’s microphone is about to get a lot harder for hackers thanks to Apple’s new T2 chip.

Apple didn’t dedicate much time to its new T2 chip during today’s ‘More in the Making’ keynote, but the company’s newest security guide gives an in-depth look at the chip. Not only is it designed to prevent MacBook Air users from getting malware but it also makes it physically impossible for hackers to access your microphone when you’re most vulnerable.

According to Apple’s guide, the T2 chip includes a hardware disconnect for the microphone that physically prevents the microphone from turning on whenever the lid of your MacBook Air 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,” reads the security guide.

Apple didn’t include a disconnect for the FaceTime camera, but the lid closes to completely obstruct its field of view, so it’s a moot point.

For now, only the MacBook Air has the new T2 chip, which also powers Touch ID. It will most likely be added to all future MacBooks though to add an unprecedented level of security.

The T2 chip also handles some non-security related tasks. It includes an image signal processor that enables enhanced tone mapping, exposure control and white balancing to the FaceTime HD camera. ‘Hey Siri’ is also powered through the T2 chip.