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Someone broke Apple’s walled garden with a critical iOS code leak

Apple seems to be having a pretty bad day, as critical iOS code was leaked to Github, giving hackers a deeper look at the inner workings of Apple’s closed garden. The code is known as ‘iBoot’, and as you would imagine, Apple has been wrangling with DMCA takedown notices since.

Apple’s iBoot code ensures a secure boot into iOS by loading and checking that the kernel is properly signed before fully loading up. The version that made its way onto Github came from iOS 9, but much of the code likely still exists in iOS 11. Currently, the leaked code can’t be compiled as certain key files are missing but, this does mean that researchers and hackers can poke around for vulnerabilities. Speaking with Motherboard, security researcher, Jonathan Levin, noted that this leak “brings us closer to a truly liberated iOS booted on generic arm boards and/or emulators”.

The original leak on Github has already been taken down, but in order to push the DMCA Takedown notice through, Apple did have to confirm its legitimacy. By exposing this code, it also opens new avenues for Jailbreakers. iPhones and iPads used to be fairly easy to Jailbreak back in the day, but with the launch of TouchID on the iPhone 5s, Apple introduced the ‘Secure Enclave co-processor’, which made exploits difficult to uncover.

Now that this code is out there, Jailbreakers will have access to portions of iOS that were never accessible before. In-fact, Apple values its iBoot code so highly that it offers $200,000 for vulnerabilities as part of its bug bounty program.

KitGuru Says: Given how much money Apple is willing to shell out for iBoot vulnerabilities, we’ll likely see security researchers rushing to analyse this code as quickly as possible. Apple may have managed to get the Github post taken down, but since people already managed to get their hands on it, it is going to be nearly impossible to contain completely.

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