2023 Author: Gordon Kinson | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 08:36
Apple's decision to open the kernel code for the first beta of iOS 10 has raised eyebrows among security experts. However, the Cupertinos assured that this step does not pose a threat, since the kernel does not contain any user data. Opening the iOS kernel code will improve the overall performance of the operating system, they said. Be that as it may, but Apple decided to go beyond the kernel and in the second beta version left even more components unencrypted.
The first to report the presence of unencrypted components in iOS 10 beta 2 was the authoritative iOS hacker MuscleNerd. The developer has denied the earlier assumption that Apple simply "forgot" to encrypt the kernel of its mobile OS.
Among other things, in the second beta version, 32-bit loaders (small programs for loading a more complex kernel) and RAM disks (virtual disks in RAM) turned out to be unencrypted. If in beta 1 the kernel was open only in the 64-bit version of the OS, then with the release of beta 2, the kernel of both 64-bit and 32-bit versions is unencrypted.
According to the image posted by MuscleNerd, in iOS 10 beta 2, encryption is absent even in the main file system (of course, in the part of it that does not affect user data). The word "sep" in the image stands for Secure Enclave (a coprocessor designed to protect user password and fingerprint data), and ATV stands for Apple TV. However, do not panic ahead of time, as Cupertinos can encrypt all components again in the final iOS 10 build.
Encryption: Security versus Speed
Encryption requires a lot of resources, which negatively affects the operating speed of the OS. Take Google for example. The tech giant implemented full disk encryption by default in its smartphones, but then made the function optional again, as users began to complain about very low performance. This is because Google implements encryption in software. Unlike the competitor, Apple uses specialized silicon semiconductors to provide strong encryption without noticeably slowing down the system.
ON THE TOPIC: Anyone can already install iOS 10 and macOS Sierra.
Starting with the iPhone 5s, iOS devices have a Secure Enclave chip built into the main processor to encrypt and process data sent through the Touch ID sensor. Since Secure Enclave is integrated with the main processor (in the case of the iPhone 6s, this is the A9), no program, service or device can read the information stored inside.
Should you worry?
It is also believed that opening some elements of the operating system will help weaken the vulnerability market. Apple does not have a bug bounty program for its products, and the company seems to like that vulnerability awareness is so expensive. Recall that hacking the iPhone of a San Bernardino terrorist cost the FBI $ 1.3 million.
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