Apple: Leaked source code doesn't impact security of iOS devices

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There are missing files so it can't be compiled, but hackers might still take advantage of this iPhone source code to find vulnerabilities in iOS and create jailbreaks.

A part of the source code for iOS was published by an anonymous user on the web-based hosting service, GitHub that is primarily used by developers to share code with one another. It's the first thing that runs when you turn on your iPhone. The program loads the system and verifies the kernel is properly signed by Apple before running the system on a device.

Named iBoot, the code is kept private - like every other piece of code developed by Apple.

For a brief moment Thursday morning, a section of iOS 9's source code was widely available on GitHub.

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That said, it's unclear how much of the iOS 9-vintage code remains in the current iOS 11 and near-future iOS 12 iBoot process, nor how improvements to the secure enclave hardware may have mitigated risks to nearly all iOS devices now being sold. The latest iOS versions have better security tools that make it hard for even highly skilled researchers to look for bugs, since they need to jailbreak the smartphone first before inspecting the device. So, Apple must own the copyright of the code in order to have it removed.

After our original article earlier today, a DCMA notice was sent to GitHub by Kilpatrick, Townsend & Stockton LLP, and was made for Apple by said legal group. Further, he added that the leaked code matches with the portion he reverse engineered himself in the past. Motherboard speculates that the leak could also enable programmers to emulate iOS on non-Apple platforms. "And now it's wide open in source code form", Levin continued.

It was posted on the website by user 'ZioShiba.' It remains unclear how the user obtained the code, but it appears to be legitimate. "Apple does not use security through obscurity, so this does not contain anything risky, just an easier to read format for the boot loader code". It's likely we'll see some changes in the source code moving forward in order to address some of the damage that is now possible at the hands of enterprising hackers.

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