Apple iBook gets 'hacked' by a pussy cat

Apple iBook gets 'hacked' by a pussy cat

Summary: An Apple iBook owner suspected his cat had hacked into his password-protected notebook. It turned out he was right -- his cat, which liked sleeping on his keyboard, managed to automatically bypass the computer's security.

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An Apple iBook owner suspected his cat had hacked into his password-protected notebook. It turned out he was right -- his cat, which liked sleeping on his keyboard, managed to automatically bypass the computer's security.

On the official Apple discussion forums on Sunday, a user identified as nilscrasher was asking for help because settings and file names -- and even the name of his hard drive -- mysteriously changed while he left the room. The only other person (cats are people too) that had access to his machine was his 14-year-old cat.

Cat sleeping on keyboard
This fat cat is day-dreaming on a PC keyboard but you get the picture.

"I have this old cat that likes to sleep on my iBook ... I have set the screensaver to require a password in order to prevent her from entering random keystrokes ... she has somehow managed to circumvent the password and, among other things, rename my hard drive.

"These things happen while I'm making grilled cheese sandwiches or doing my dirty business in the bathroom," nilscrasher wrote.

The discussion thread very quickly generated 85 responses, some of them really rather amusing.

"I'd suggest setting up an account in the cat's name and switch to it before leaving the room ... Kitty wants to play with the computer ... Give her an account so she doesn't mess up yours," wrote Ronda Wilson.

Another good one was from Pete K, who said: "Dude, you gotta think on an animals [sic] level. Every time you leave the room, pee in a circle around your iBook/territory".

As it turns out, the cat really was able to 'hack' into the computer -- because the system contained a flaw in the password protected screensaver, which meant that when nilscrasher walked out of the room, if the cat sat on his warm keyboard, it would gain full access.

"I really just expected somebody to log on here and tell me about something like Keyboard Cleaner. Which somebody did. And I installed it. And now the cat can only turn on the Caps Lock light. And I haven't had many problems since.," said a very satisfied nilscrasher.

I don't think there will ever be a better example to help bang the message home: Patch your systems people or even a cat will be able to break into them.

Topics: Apple, Operating Systems, Security

Munir Kotadia

About Munir Kotadia

Munir first became involved with online publishing in 1998 when he joined ZDNet UK and later moved into print publishing as Chief Reporter for IT Week, part of ZDNet UK, a weekly trade newspaper targeted at Enterprise IT managers. He later moved back into online publishing as Senior News Reporter for ZDNet UK.

Munir was recognised as Australia's Best Technology Columnist at the 5th Annual Sun Microsystems IT Journalism Awards 2007. In the previous year he was named Best News Journalist at the Consensus IT Writers Awards.

He no longer uses his Commodore 64.

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3 comments
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  • Fixed

    Dear Chris, apologies for that. It's been fixed.

    Cheers
    fran
    __________________________
    Fran Foo
    managing editor
    zdnet.com.au
    anonymous
  • Cat like typing detected...

    Seems to be a common problem:

    http://bitboost.com/pawsense/

    Doesn't look like they have a Mac version though.
    anonymous
  • every problem

    every one have like this problem.but nice article.


    vikram,
    http://www.zdnet.com.au/blogs/securifythis/soa/Apple-iBook-gets-hacked-by-a-pussy-cat/0,139033343,339274506,00.htm?feed=pt_keyboard#talkback
    anonymous