The inevitable race to hack Apple’s AirTag object tracker was reportedly won by a German security researcher, who managed to break into the device’s microcontroller and successfully modify its firmware.

Thomas Roth aka Stack Smashing shared his achievement in a Tweeter and explained that re-flashing the device’s microcontroller allowed him to change the lost mode URL, so that he would open his personal website on an iPhone or other NFC-enabled device nearby instead of creating a direct link to an official Find My web address.

Getting into the microcontroller is a crucial hurdle to overcome if the goal is to further manipulate the hardware of the device. Like 8 bits Remarks:

A microcontroller is an integrated circuit (IC) used to control devices typically through a microprocessor unit, memory, and other peripherals. According to AllAboutCircuits, “These devices are optimized for on-board applications that require both processing functionality and agile, responsive interaction with digital, analog or electromechanical components.”

Roth also shared a video comparing a normal AirTag to his modified device.

How hacking could be exploited in the wild is unclear at this time, but the fact that it can be done may open up avenues for the jailbreaking community to personalize the device in a way that Apple does. had no intention of doing. On a darker note, it could also present opportunities for bad actors to modify AirTag software for phishing purposes and more.

This assumes that Apple is not able to remotely prevent such a modified AirTag from communicating with the ‌Find My‌ network. Alternatively, Apple might be able to lock down the firmware in a future AirTag software update. Watch this place.

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