Source code for iOS 9's 'iBoot' component reportedly leaks online

Posted:
in iPhone edited February 7
Source code for what is claimed to be the iBoot component of Apple's iOS, software that handles secure booting of the operating system, was published on GitHub by an unknown party on Wednesday, a development that could lead to the discovery and exploitation of currently unknown vulnerabilities.




According to Motherboard, the GitHub code is labeled "iBoot" in reference to Apple's iBoot subsystem that ensures an authenticated boot, or initial loading, of iOS on a target device. The code is responsible for verifying iOS kernel signing, as well as performing other critical tasks related to loading the mobile operating system.

While the authenticity of the source code, pulled from a version of iOS 9, has not been verified, security expert Jonathan Levin said it appears to line up with code he reversed engineered. A second unnamed researcher also believes it legitimate, the report said.

Calling it "the biggest leak in history," Levin said the source code presents an opportunity to discover new vulnerabilities that could potentially lead to a new era of tethered jailbreaks, which require an iPhone be connected to a computer while booting. Of course, these same unpatched vulnerabilities might also be leveraged for more nefarious activities like cracking locked iPhones or creating iOS emulators, Levin said.

"iBoot is the one component Apple has been holding on to, still encrypting its 64 bit image," Levin said. "And now it's wide open in source code form."

Researchers and criminals alike have in the past relied on iBoot vulnerabilities to crack iPhone's notoriously hardened outer security shell, but recent hardware advancements like Apple's Secure Enclave Processor have made such endeavors nearly impossible.

As noted by the report, Apple regards boot process code as extremely sensitive information. The company's bounty program, for example, classifies secure boot components as a top-tier vulnerability, paying out $200,000 for each reported bug.

Interestingly, the same source code made public today was posted to Reddit some four months ago by a user going by the name "apple_internals," but the thread failed to gain traction and was quickly buried. With the code now available for perusal on GitHub, however, it is more likely that jailbreakers and other interested parties are parsing through the data in hopes of unearthing useful information.

How the purported iBoot code affects current iOS versions is unclear, though modern iPhones and iPads are likely protected from most vulnerabilities deduced from the source code. Beyond security protocols like the Secure Enclave, it's worth noting that the supposed iBoot version published to GitHub is from iOS 9. While certain code points might have been carried through to iOS 11, it is unclear if those assets make the current OS vulnerable.

That said, it is impossible to triage the situation without a full breakdown of what vulnerabilities, if any, are in the purported iBoot code and how said bugs impact modern iOS iterations. The latter part of that equation involves a substantial amount of trial and error, as Apple's boot loading code is not open to public scrutiny.

Apple has yet to comment on the matter.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    Things like this really piss me off. I hope someone ends up in jail and bankrupt.
    chasmracerhomie3mac_dogmacseekerlolliverbrian greenoneof52macxpressmike54SpamSandwich
  • Reply 2 of 20
    Information wants to be free.
  • Reply 3 of 20
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 4,938member
    Information wants to be free.
    Not all "information" needs to be "free". 
    mac_dogmacseekerbluefire1lolliverbrian greenmwhitetdknoxGeorgeBMacmagman1979watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 20
    Information wants to be free.
    Go home bozo.
    mac_dogmacseekerlolliverbrian greenmwhiteSpamSandwichGeorgeBMacmagman1979watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 5 of 20
    adm1adm1 Posts: 630member
    Things like this really piss me off. I hope someone ends up in jail and bankrupt.
    Why? The people that do this are only pushing Apple and others to strengthen security in each new product and software release. These "hackers" are undoubtedly incredibly intelligent, many are often on the autistic spectrum so don't understand the average-IQ, lay-person's logic - many also just do it because they can and are not interested in money, the reward itself is cracking the code. If anything, it's these guys that the companies and governments should be hiring to stay ahead of the game.
  • Reply 6 of 20
    <BS>.
    *plonk*
    edited February 8 EsquireCatsGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 20
    I love that AI’s headline includes the fact that this is for iOS 9, while 9to5Mac doesn’t mention that (hugely important) tidbit in their headline, thus causing more panic based clicks... thank you Apple Insider.
    EsquireCatsmwhiteGeorgeBMacmagman1979repressthiswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 8 of 20
    Time for Apple to go mole hunting.
    randominternetpersonmagman1979repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 20
    Information wants to be free.
    Information, finds a way.
    repressthis
  • Reply 10 of 20
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 3,858member
    adm1 said:
    Things like this really piss me off. I hope someone ends up in jail and bankrupt.
    Why? The people that do this are only pushing Apple and others to strengthen security in each new product and software release. These "hackers" are undoubtedly incredibly intelligent, many are often on the autistic spectrum so don't understand the average-IQ, lay-person's logic - many also just do it because they can and are not interested in money, the reward itself is cracking the code. If anything, it's these guys that the companies and governments should be hiring to stay ahead of the game.
    Something tells me possibly this is not a mistake, but rather a disgruntled employee who "leaked" it on purpose. Regardless, someone needs to be held accountable for this. Stuff like this should never see the light of day for the public at large. You don't just leak a very important part of the OS. I'd like to know the actual reason why this was leaked. 
    andrewj5790randominternetpersontdknoxmagman1979watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 11 of 20
    airnerdairnerd Posts: 393member
    If vulnerabilities are discovered, might be a good thing.  Did details of how the FBI got into that one phone ever come out?  Maybe whatever method the "3rd party" used to get into it will be ruined by the outcome of this leak.  

    I wish it hadn't happened, but if something is cracked then Apple will plug it and may just solve an issue they weren't aware they had.  Silver linings.
    randominternetpersonrepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 20
    airnerdairnerd Posts: 393member
    macxpress said:
    adm1 said:
    Things like this really piss me off. I hope someone ends up in jail and bankrupt.
    Why? The people that do this are only pushing Apple and others to strengthen security in each new product and software release. These "hackers" are undoubtedly incredibly intelligent, many are often on the autistic spectrum so don't understand the average-IQ, lay-person's logic - many also just do it because they can and are not interested in money, the reward itself is cracking the code. If anything, it's these guys that the companies and governments should be hiring to stay ahead of the game.
    Something tells me possibly this is not a mistake, but rather a disgruntled employee who "leaked" it on purpose. Regardless, someone needs to be held accountable for this. Stuff like this should never see the light of day for the public at large. You don't just leak a very important part of the OS. I'd like to know the actual reason why this was leaked. 
    Actual reason was most likely what you said, disgruntled employee. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 20
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 5,628member

    Calling it "the biggest leak in history," Levin said the source code presents an opportunity to discover new vulnerabilities that could potentially lead to a new era of tethered jailbreaks, which require an iPhone be connected to a computer while booting.

    This says it all about the motives of hackers and security researchers. It’s all about self aggrandizement, megalomania, and narcissism. Biggest leak in history? My grandma’s twat.
    macplusplusandrewj5790magman1979mac_dogwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 20
    It's already outdated code. Next....
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 20
    mike54mike54 Posts: 146member
    Hope the person is found and jailed.
    magman1979watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 20
    adm1 said:
    Things like this really piss me off. I hope someone ends up in jail and bankrupt.
    Why? The people that do this are only pushing Apple and others to strengthen security in each new product and software release. These "hackers" are undoubtedly incredibly intelligent, many are often on the autistic spectrum so don't understand the average-IQ, lay-person's logic - many also just do it because they can and are not interested in money, the reward itself is cracking the code. If anything, it's these guys that the companies and governments should be hiring to stay ahead of the game.
    Or they will be given serious criminal charges by the FBI, CIA or NSA, with the possibility of charges dropped in exchange for working for them.
  • Reply 17 of 20
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 313member
    So..
    • Bad: code exposed, making it easier for hackers to find and exploit vulnerabilities
    • Good: Vulnerabilities will be discovered and patched, leading to a more secure system
    • Unknown: If the code is actually real and how much it has in common with iOS 11 which has been largely rewritten
    • Reassuring: any vulnerabilities would likely need physical access to the device and a physical connection while rebooting.
    edited February 8 repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 20
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 4,880member
    Information wants to be free.
    Information wants nothing. Can’t think. Has no desires. Not human or animal. 
    repressthiswatto_cobrabadmonk
  • Reply 19 of 20
    Information wants to be free.
    Information doesn't "want" anything. Anthropomorphic nonsense doesn't mean anything. Certain people wish certain information were free, but I'm sure they'll go back to their "job" playing online games soon enough, hoping for that opportunity to cheat developers and get their favorite games free.
    watto_cobraasdasd
  • Reply 20 of 20
    macxpress said:
    adm1 said:
    Things like this really piss me off. I hope someone ends up in jail and bankrupt.
    Why? The people that do this are only pushing Apple and others to strengthen security in each new product and software release. These "hackers" are undoubtedly incredibly intelligent, many are often on the autistic spectrum so don't understand the average-IQ, lay-person's logic - many also just do it because they can and are not interested in money, the reward itself is cracking the code. If anything, it's these guys that the companies and governments should be hiring to stay ahead of the game.
    Something tells me possibly this is not a mistake, but rather a disgruntled employee who "leaked" it on purpose. Regardless, someone needs to be held accountable for this. Stuff like this should never see the light of day for the public at large. You don't just leak a very important part of the OS. I'd like to know the actual reason why this was leaked. 
    Perhaps someone in the "I hate Apple" for being successful demographic wants to give the competition a leg up? It's always easier to knee-cap the competition than to pursue success on your own merits.
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