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Apple Lightning cable's 'mystery' chip provides weaker security than a printer cartridge's

Updated 4 years ago
Published Oct 16th, 2012 8:57PM EDT

Good news for shady third-party manufacturers: The security chip inside Apple’s (AAPL) Lightning cable may not be so tough to crack after all. A new analysis from the reverse engineering specialists at Chipworks shows that the Lightning does have a special chip that’s designed to implement security measures and thus thwart manufacturers’ ability to create cheap knockoffs. But as far as security chips go, the Lightning’s isn’t all that special as Chipworks found that its “security does not come close to the herculean approaches that are used in… today’s printer cartridges, but resembles the level of effort that cartridge manufacturers used to implement in the olden days.”

Chipworks suspects that this is “a calculated decision by Apple to keep costs to a minimum knowing that their core customer base prefers to shop in Apple stores or for brand name peripherals.” Or put another way, since Apple’s customers are so fiercely loyal and are used to paying higher prices for their products, the company doesn’t have to worry as much about them scouring for cheaper alternatives and can thus provide fairly lax security on its accessories.


Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.