iOS 10 Developer Preview Has An Unencrypted Kernel

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The suggestion is that Apple has negelected to encrypt iOS 10 kernel in bid to encourage hackers to find security flaws

The developer preview of iOS 10 has an unencrypted kernel according to security experts, leading to speculation as to whether this was an intentional decision from Apple in a bid to shore up the security of its mobile operating system.

The lack of encryption, as has been standard with previous versions of iOS, has meant many pieces of code have been made available to developers, researchers – and cybercriminals for the first time.

This doesn’t mean the security of iOS has been compromised, but finding weaknesses should be a lot easier.

iOS 10 unencrypted kernel

iPhone SE 1But rather than an oversight by Apple, experts told MIT Technology Review it could be a novel strategy from Apple to encourage researchers to report flaws.

Apple has just emerged from a very public battle with the FBI, which wanted the company to introduce an encryption backdoor for law enforcement officials. The FBI abandoned its battle through the courts after a third party provided a tool that exploited a flaw in older models of the iPhone.

By opening up its code to more people, the suggestion is that is likely more flaws would be discovered and third parties would not be able to ‘hoard’ these flaws.

Apple does not have a ‘bug bounty’ programme like Microsoft or Google and has been notoriously secretive about its security measures. Indeed, its approach has come under scrutiny from some who think it has not responded quick enough to threats.

Researcher Jonathan Zdiarski is quoted as saying this would be a much more conventional approach, but it is likely the lack of encryption was deliberate because such an error would be far too glaring.

TechWeekEurope has contacted Apple but had not received a response at the time of publication.

iOS 10 was detailed at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco earlier this month and will give developers access to Siri, Messages and Maps, as well as overhauled first party applications and new lock screen options.

A public beta will open in July and will be made available to compatible devices in the autumn.
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