iBoot-Gate: Apple Leaked the Critical Part of the iOS Source Code
The internet has seen a lot of leaks in its time. Mail services, clouds, banks, gaming servers, mobile apps – they all tend to leak every now and then. Several days ago, the most trustworthy company of all – Apple Corp even leaked. The source code of iOS 9 surfaced on GitHub – the web platform that software developers from across the world use to collaborate with each other.
One can meet all kinds of open source codes there but never the part of the most tightly sealed OS.
GitHub frequenters labelled it iBoot, and indeed, this is part of the booing code. Booting is critical for any operating system. It makes sure that the files are correct and contain no malware or a third-party software. Apple as any other software maker, signs the OS files and the booting program checks the signature, loading the iOS core and putting your iPhone to work.
With the knowledge of this code a hacker can disguise the malware as part of the system files approved by Apple.
The Cupertino company confirmed that the iBoot belongs to them and filed a DMCA takedown notice ordering to remove the code from GitHub. We all know though, that what goes up online, truly remains online forever. GitHub was not the first website to post the iBoot. About four months ago, the code was noticed on Reddit, on the /r/Jailbroke message board. Most of the Redditors on the other hand, took it for a prank or a disguised malware. The bot deleted the post because the “account does not meet the minimum posting requirements”.
The anonymous hacker was obstinate enough to try Github next and this time managed to attract everyone’s attention. Luckily for all the iPhone and iPad users this was the part of the iOS 9 code. Only 8% of iDevices run on iOS 9 now. IOS 11 as we know is completely overhauled and contains only scraps of the iOS 9 code.
Still, reverse engineering methods can work wonders. A good coder can deduct the basic principles of the iOS booting process. It can help jailbreakers – the people who hack the Apple devices to download pirated apps and media files. I can’t imagine what happened to Apple’s internal servers for having such a critical part of the software leaked. Did they leave behind some old hard drives when moving to the new campus? Did they sell their old machines? Or was it a revenge of a fired employee? We may never know.
The leak source was spotted! Motherboard.vice.com received a tip and found a jailbreaking community. One of the members of this community just happened to be an Apple employee as well. The website got in touch with them under the condition of their complete anonymity and got their story. A low-level Apple employee “… pulled everything, all sorts of Apple internal tools and whatnot,”, one of the jailbreakers shared. The pals didn’t want the code to see daylight, they intended to keep it to themselves or so they claim now. Yet a user named “ZioShiba” posted it on GitHub.
The leak took place back in 2016 when the share of the Apple devices on iOS 9 was much greater, and pilfering it made sense for jailbreakers. The source of Motherboard.vice.com added that Apple learned about the leak before its stunning appearance on GitHub. It partly explains Cupertino very patient reaction.
If these hackers are ever revealed, they will be prosecuted for stealing and inappropriate use of proprietary software.
Apple representatives are evasive in their comments. They just noticed that the iOS 11 users are completely safe. Incidences on the other hand, illustrate how fragile our civilization has become. Just several strings of symbols and digits can ruin the life of millions. The industry standards of cyber security should be thoroughly reconsidered.
- Apple Confirms iPhone Source Code Leak is Real, But Says its Security Doesn’t Depend on Secrecy – MacRumors
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iPhone leak: Apple’s secret iBoot source code posted to GitHub in biggest leak ever [Video]
Video uploaded by TomoNews US on February 10, 2018