Although years later from the discovered exploitable vulnerability with iSight's LED, I am wondering if the issue has been fixed on 2019 and 2020 iMacs and Macbook Pros. Can the iSight LED still be overridden through software, or is it actually hardwired this time so that the webcam cannot turn on unless the green LED turns on too?

  • Aren’t all cameras hardwired in Macs? The question is probably about if the firmware is signed and secured to a level you might approve. What is your threat model?
    – bmike
    May 15, 2020 at 19:57
  • How do I find out what's my threat model?
    – Transattic
    May 15, 2020 at 19:59
  • You define it. Are you worried about the US NSA TAO? That’s one threat. Are you worried about the house cleaner or a frenemy that has access to your hardware?
    – bmike
    May 15, 2020 at 20:03
  • Oh got it. I'm worried about some anonymous spy wanting to check-in on me or find an opportunity to rob my place or collect videos for blackmail.
    – Transattic
    May 15, 2020 at 20:08
  • Hacking the camera is going to be way harder than other easier ways to blackmail you.
    – bmike
    May 15, 2020 at 20:10

1 Answer 1


From a practical stance, macOS now blocks all apps from the camera in software so you can easily know all apps that could even request access to the microphone or camera.

In 2009 the firmware of the hardwired cameras was secured with encryption. I haven’t seen a credible report that this is broken, but depending on your threat model, you might close the lid if you can’t trust Apple to secure things.

Whether you trust the LED auto-functions and cannot fail as an intrinsic part of the operation would need to trust someone who can forensically examine the hardware (likely destroying it to be certain how it works) and assuming all are made the same.

I think you the camera is the least revealing or worrisome part, but it’s fine to question and learn even if it’s a small risk or no risk or you have easy mitigation options.

Also, all Mac cameras are hardwired. Just the security is far better hardware wire since 2009 and software side many steps better but with SIP and Catalina it’s really a hardened target for the software to get compromised.

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