Apple Confirms iPhone Source Code Leak is Real, But Says its Security Doesn't Depend on Secrecy

Source code for iBoot, a core component of the iPhone's operating system leaked on GitHub yesterday, raising concerns that the hackers and security researchers could dig into the code to find iOS vulnerabilities.


In a statement issued to MacRumors this morning, Apple confirmed the authenticity of the code but emphasized that it's for iOS 9, a three-year-old operating system that's been replaced with iOS 11 and is in use on only a small number of devices.

"Old source code from three years ago appears to have been leaked, but by design the security of our products doesn't depend on the secrecy of our source code. 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 latest protections."

Based on data from Apple's App Store support page for developers, iOS 11 is installed on 65 percent of devices, iOS 10 is installed on 28 percent of devices, and earlier versions of iOS, such as iOS 9, are installed on just seven percent of devices.

In addition to acknowledging that the leak contained real source code, Apple this morning also sent a DMCA takedown notice to GitHub this morning, successfully getting the code removed from the site.

The data that was shared on GitHub was incomplete so the iBoot code was not able to be compiled, but it did include a documents directory that offered up additional information relevant to iBoot, and combined, the data leak could make it easier to locate vulnerabilities to create new jailbreaks.

Average users should not need to be concerned about the leak, however, as Apple has many layers of protection in place, like the Secure Enclave, and does not rely on source code secrecy alone as a way to keep its users safe.

Security researcher Will Strafach, who spoke to TechCrunch, echoed what Apple had to say. He believes the source code is compelling because it provides an inside look into the inner workings of the bootloader, but ultimately, "Apple does not use security through obscurity," so there is nothing risky in the code.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
35 months ago
"root" <enter> <enter>

jk jk

Glad they are actually being vocal instead of almost dead silent during the battery thing. That just lead to people coming to their own conclusions. It's quite a bit harder to change people's minds once they form their own opinion, even if it's dead wrong.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 months ago
this transparency thing getting out of hand
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 months ago
How many of the "better post quick and say something sarcastic" posters actually read the article and saw it was for iOS 9?
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 months ago

Anyone could always just decompile the code. C doesn't decompile as easily/neatly as, say, java, but products like Hopper Decompiler exist if you want to convert from compiled code to C.

HA! Good luck with that. Give it a try and let us know how it works out. Hint: there's a reason someone hasn't just done that.
[doublepost=1518120690][/doublepost]

"we always encourage customers to update to the newest software releases to benefit from the latest protections"

...and for those of you with older devices that cannot run the newest software releases, we encourage you to throw your device into a landfill because the millisecond that we make a new iOS version, we stop putting security fixes into the previous version.

That's not true at all. Apple continues issuing security updates for older devices years after they're no longer on sale. Android has new devices on the market which don't even run the current version of Android. The same can't be said for their push to secure older devices like Apple.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 months ago
Not so worried about the security implications, but it could mean that ios could be booted on a generic ARM device. Basically a "hackintosh" for ios.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 months ago

It’s pretty funny that, ever since Tim Cook said Apple was doubling down, they’ve surely had twice as many fails.

And they’re like 200% bigger. Funny how that works.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Leaker: 'iPhone 12 mini' and iPhone 12 Storage Capacities Start at 64GB, Pro Models at 128GB

Tuesday September 29, 2020 2:31 am PDT by
Rumors suggest Apple's iPhone 12 launch event will be held on October 13, with the more affordable 5.4 and 6.1-inch devices set to ship out ahead of the more expensive 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch Pro devices, and this morning hit-and-miss leaker Jon Prosser has further committed to that date by providing alleged details on Apple's first shipment of finalized iPhone 12 units. Prosser claims the...

Hands-On With iOS 14.2's New Shazam Music Recognition Toggle in Control Center

Monday September 28, 2020 2:35 pm PDT by
Shortly after launching iOS 14, Apple introduced an upcoming iOS 14.2 update, which is now available to developers and public beta testers ahead of a public release that could come at some point in October. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The iOS 14.2 update mainly focuses on the Control Center, introducing a new Music Recognition toggle that deepens the Shazam...

Top Stories: iOS 14 Feature Tour, 'iPhone 12 mini' Rumors, Apple Watch Band Controversy

Saturday September 26, 2020 6:00 am PDT by
Things started to calm down a bit this week following last week's rush of media event, Apple Watch and iPad launches, and the release of iOS 14 and other operating updates. But that doesn't mean there wasn't still a lot of news, from digging deeper into iOS 14 to more iPhone 12 rumors to the uproar over trying to exchange band sizes on the new Apple Watch. On top of all of that, we heard...

DigiTimes: 12.9-inch Mini-LED iPad Pro Arriving Early 2021, Mini-LED MacBook Coming Later

Tuesday September 29, 2020 4:18 am PDT by
Apple will launch a 12.9-inch mini LED-backlit iPad Pro in early 2021 and a mini LED-backlit MacBook in the second-half of next year, according to DigiTimes. The Taiwan-based industry publication claims Epistar will supply the over-10,000 mini LEDs used in each iPad Pro tablet. Meanwhile, Apple is expected to recruit Osram Opto as another supplier of mini LEDs for use in a new "high-end"...

iPhone 12 May Launch Earlier Than Usual in South Korea

Monday September 28, 2020 5:24 am PDT by
The upcoming iPhone 12 lineup may launch earlier than usual in South Korea, reports The Korea Herald. South Korean telecoms firms speaking to The Korea Herald have said that the iPhone 12 lineup will launch ahead of its usual schedule. Normally, the release of new iPhones in South Korea comes about one month after launch in the United States. Last year, the iPhone 11 arrived in South Korea ...

iOS 14: 'Phoenix 2' Space Shooter Delivers Playable Demo via App Clips

Saturday September 26, 2020 2:08 pm PDT by
One of the new features that arrived in iOS 14 is called App Clips. App Clips is described by Apple to be a "small part of your app" that can be available to users at just the right moment.App Clips focus on finishing one task quickly. An ideal App Clip experience allows users to open and complete a task in seconds. Instead of requiring an App Store download, they can be loaded and run via...

Epic Games Unlikely to Win Injunction in Ongoing Fortnite Battle With Apple, Jury Trial Possible

Monday September 28, 2020 1:14 pm PDT by
The ongoing legal dispute between Apple and Epic Games continued on today, with a preliminary injunction hearing taking place this morning. We're still waiting to hear the judge's official ruling, but it looks like Epic is not going to be granted an injunction to allow Fortnite back into the App Store as the case unfolds. Many of the arguments that lawyers for Apple and Epic Games made were...

iPhone 12 Production Lines at Foxconn's Zhengzhou Factory in China Running '24 Hours a Day'

Tuesday September 29, 2020 3:38 am PDT by
Apple contract manufacturer Foxconn is running its massive Zhengzhou factory in China 24 hours a day to produce the new iPhone 12, according to Chinese media reports. Apple's main iPhone manufacturer in China is said to be cancelling workers' holidays and introducing mandatory overtime with additional bonuses for longer-serving staff, according to information garnered from employees,...

'iPhone 12 mini' Name Reappears in Leaked Apple iPhone 12 Case Stickers

Friday September 25, 2020 1:58 am PDT by
Earlier this week a proven leaker claimed that the iPhone 12 lineup would be named "iPhone 12 mini," "iPhone 12," "iPhone 12 Pro," and "iPhone 12 Pro Max," and today the same nomenclature has appeared again in a photo depicting alleged stickers from unreleased Silicone iPhone cases originating from Apple's international distribution center in Ireland. The photo shows three stickers with the...

Apple Releases iOS 14.0.1 With Fix for Bug That Resets Default Apps After Rebooting

Thursday September 24, 2020 10:12 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 14.0.1, the first update to the iOS 14 operating system that was released on September 16. Today's update is a bug fix update addressing issues that weren't able to be fixed in the initial iOS 14 launch. The iOS 14.0.1 update is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to Settings > General > Software Update. ...