Apple acquired firmware security company LegbaCore in November 2015, according to security researcher Trammell Hudson, who revealed the acquisition in his presentation at the 32C3 conference in December. LegbaCore’s goal, according to founder Xeno Kovah, is „to help build systems that are as secure as we know how to make.“
In November, Kovah and fellow LegbaCore founder Corey Kallenberg revealed that they had joined Apple as full-time employees. Just a couple days before that, LegbaCore’s website announced that it would „not be accepting any new customer engagements“, noting that the website would remain up „to serve as a reference for LegbaCore’s past work.“
LegbaCore had collaborated with Hudson on Thunderstrike 2, the first firmware worm to affect Mac computers. The malware is impossible to remove, resistant to both firmware and software updates. LegbaCore and Hudson had alerted Apple to Thunderstrike 2’s vulnerabilities and Apple began work on fixes, issuing one in June 2015.
On Twitter, Kovah said that Apple began discussions with LegbaCore after the consultancy’s presentation in summer 2015. It soon became clear to Kovah and Kallenberg that Apple had „some *very* interesting and highly impactful work“ that the two could participate in. They were eventually convinced to wind down LegbaCore’s existing contracts and begin work at Apple.
What did Apple hire us to do? We can’t say. 🙂 Well, we can probably say something like “low level security” (I don’t know our job titles)
— Xeno Kovah (@XenoKovah)
While LegbaCore is a security consultancy firm that doesn’t own any specific technology, it’s likely Apple will use Kovah and Kallenberg’s talent and knowledge to help improve firmware and software security in future iterations of Apple’s various hardware and software products. LegbaCore’s work includes research on Thunderstrike 2, „dead code“ for BIOS attacks and more.
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