iOS iBoot Code Leaked, Huge Security Headache for Apple

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Part of the iOS boot code, called iBoot, was posted on GitHub yesterday for anyone to view—and without Apple’s permission. Apple filed a copyright takedown request and the code was gone Thursday morning, but not before hackers and security researchers were able to get at it, making this the biggest leak Apple has ever faced.

iPhone with code on screen

iOS 9 iBoot code leaked on GitHub

The iBoot code handles the first steps in the iPhone and iPad startup process including verifying the iOS kernel (the operating system’s core) is valid and properly signed. Assuming the kernel passes inspection, iBoot loads it and lets the startu process continue.

The code that found its way to GitHub—an online repository and code management system—was for iOS 9. It’s very likely some of that code is still in iOS 11, which makes the leak a potential treasure trove for hackers, security researchers, and governments hoping to find exploits into iPhone and iPad encrypted data.

Motherboard says no one knows who was behind the code leak. Security researchers told the publication their checks show the code is legit and really is part of iOS 9.

Apple confirmed as much with its take down request. Part of the DMCA requirement for the request was Apple’s assertion that the code is real and belongs to the company, and that it isn’t in the public domain.

This is the second time iOS 9’s iBoot code has been posted online. Someone posted it to the Reddit jailbreak subreddit four months ago, but was largely ignored. Considering this is the second time the code leaked, and it’s been downloaded from GitHub multiple times since yesterday, Apple has a couple big problem on its hands: what vulnerabilities will people find, and how someone could leak the code in the first place.

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wj45
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wj45

This doesn’t affect those of us running something more recent than iOS 9, does it?

geoduck
Member
geoduck

Probably not. Newer hardware uses a more secure system. IF youre running an older device AND if Apple us still using parts of this same code AND if there is a vulnerability that is discovered and exploited, then maybe.

craigf
Member
craigf

Still, whoever did this is presumably very close to home and needs to be found and stopped.

Andrew Orr
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Andrew Orr

I’m not convinced this is as big of a deal as MB makes it out to be. Biggest leak in history? Nah fam, cool your jets. As a Redditor pointed out, modern iOS security components don’t rely on being hidden, because of tech like Secure Enclave, memory protection, kernel patch protection, etc.

It doesn’t matter if you know the source code as long as you can’t fake Apple’s private encryption keys (no one can) or if you can find a chain of exploits (which already exist for iOS 9 anyway).

andrewj050790
Member
andrewj050790

Agree. Thanks for bringing logic to the discussion.

geoduck
Member
geoduck

Motherboard says no one knows who was behind the code leak.

This is a criminal act. Get law enforcement on it and then when the culprit is found lock them up for 10-20. THEN sue them and anyone that they collaborated with so their grand children will still be paying off the debt.

Lee Dronick
Member
Lee Dronick

What kind of sociopath would do such a thing!