IBoot Source Code Leaked onto GitHub

In what is no doubt embarrassing for Apple, some portions of iOS source code have leaked online and the same could be hot property for hackers seeking to create jailbreaks of iOS devices. Rusty Carter, VP of Product at Arxan Technologies commented below.

Exactly what hackers are able to do with the leaked iBoot will depend on what security flaws are present in the source code, if those flaws have been retained in new versions of the operating systems, and whether those flaws can be exploited. "But the leak of this source code is proof that no environment or OS is infallible, and application protection from within the application itself is crucial, especially for business-critical, data-sensitive applications", says Carter. The company said users' phones are safe as the security of the handsets does not rely on the secrecy of the code.

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'It's a huge deal, ' Jonathan Levin, who writes books about iOS system programming, said in an interview with Motherboard. "This document may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form, in whole or in part, without the express written permission of Apple Inc". Now that it gathered attention, Apple filed a copyright takedown request to Github, forcing the site to take down the code. Besides, it also ensures the device is running code that has been validated by Apple.

While the source code could have been leaked using malware on a developer machine, the more likely scenarios range from a mistaken leak, or a deliberate leak by an employee or a third-party who had access to the code, he told TechNewsWorld. Also, the reason this code is so vital as it is responsible for starting up an iOS device, or in other words, loads iOS in the first place each time the device is turned on. In any case, Apple will have enough time to secure things up and might issue a patch to cover any risks posed by the leak.

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Apple keeps code like this firmly under lock and key, in a form of 'security through obscurity', as it is essential to the core functionality of iOS.

Cyber-security expert Prof Alan Woodward, from the University of Surrey, said it was "extraordinary" that the code had been leaked. "There are many layers of hardware and software protections built into our products, and we always encourage customers to update to the newest software releases to benefit from the protections".

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However, according to the security researcher Will Strafach, for the end users it does not really mean anything positive or negative.

  • Gina Adkins