Apple took it down via a DMCA, but iOS iBoot code is now in the wild

“Critical, top secret Apple code for the iPhone’s operating system was posted on Github, opening a new, dangerous avenue for hackers and jailbreakers to access the device, Motherboard reported,” Steve Dent reports for Engadget. “The code, known as ‘”iBoot,’ has since been pulled, but Apple may have confirmed it was the real deal when it issued a DMCA takedown to Github, as Twitter user @supersat noted [see below].”

“iBoot is the iOS code that ensures a secure boot by loading and checking that kernel is properly signed by Apple before running the OS,” Dent reports. “The version that was posted to Github, supposedly by a Twitter user named @q3hardcore, was for iOS 9, but much of it likely still exists in the latest version, iOS 11.”

“The code can’t be compiled because certain files are missing, but researchers and hackers who know what to look for could probe it for vulnerabilities,” Dent reports. “iPhones used to be relatively easy to jailbreak before Apple introduced the “secure enclave co-processor” with the TouchID of the iPhone 5s. Now, it’s nearly impossible for hackers to even find bugs in iOS code, making iOS exploits relatively rare, unlike in Windows and Android. As such, the iBoot leak is exposing code that hardly anyone has seen before. The iBoot dump first appeared last year on Reddit, but received little notice from the security community until it hit Github.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple hacked so thoroughly as for some nefarious hacker(s) to get their hands on something as important as iBoot? Disaffected Apple employee(s)? Some other explanation for this massive, unprecedented leak?

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16 Comments

  1. Maybe Apple is admitting that Jailbreaking can be a rather good idea. Perhaps they’re seeing what people do with it before opening gates a little more. Or, perhaps they’re using this to use the jailbreak coder community for more ideas for iOS, lol. Devin Prater Assistive Technology Instructor

    , Microsoft Outlook, Excel, Word, and Powerpoint instructor certified by World Services for the Blind

    >

  2. Part of a long-term scheme to “drain the swamp”? So might it be a White Hat or Black Hat operation? What if the code was used for nefarious purposes by a Black Hat embedded within Apple who I consider either neutral or a White Hat company. Perhaps this release forces Apple to redo the code so that it can no longer be used for some sort of anti-Social Justice purpose.

    These are all possible but it’s likely simply a dumba§§ mistake.

    We’ll see what Q says.

  3. What I don’t understand in all this is why github doesn’t have a system in place to vet and not publish things like this. And why they’re not in trouble for distributing stolen material, it makes no sense to me. To answer the MDN posit, this was clearly an inside job by someone who had access to the bootloader, but for some reason I don’t think this effects anything major. Obviously it’s bad for people running iOS 9, but there has to have been some knowledge about this prior to the DMCA strike by Apple simply by how iOS 11 changes the boot order, it double authenticates now and that’s something previous versions of iOS never did.

    1. Github does have a system – it’s called honoring the DMCA takedown notice. That system is also the law.

      If you went to a mall and bought drugs from another person walking through the mall, should the mall owner go to jail? Think how stupid that would be – the result would be either unbelievably heavy-handed rules controlling every tiny detail of behavior of everyone who is _NOT_ even doing anything wrong, or no more places open to the public. A better system is that people acting in a space are liable for their own behavior and not for a guest, unless they somehow affirm/claim the actions of that guest.

      Same thing applies to websites with the current safe-harbor laws – they are not liable for infringing content unless they receive notice and refuse to take it down. That’s the law, and it’s better than the course of action you seem to be suggesting.

      1. Your analogy is a little flawed. This person uploaded the content and advertised it, that would be like the drug dealer setting up a kiosk and the mall allowing them to do so while waiting for the DEA file a complaint to “comply”. What I’m suggesting is that sites like this should clearly have a system in place to at least monitor what their users upload, saying they have no responsibility because they’re just the “marketplace” and it’s the wronged parties responsibility to police the actions of others is nonsense. If everyone is responsible for their own actions, by your own argument, then github absolutely bears responsibility for being the host (you accidentally proved my argument.. oops)

        1. You’re still missing the point. People discussing this very issue thought hard about the balance of required effort, and decided that it would create WAY too much friction to require hosts to evaluate everything before it goes live. It seems that you’re underestimating just how huge a job it would be to evaluate EVERYTHING on the Internet before it goes live. The web as we know it could not exist that way.

          1. It’s more than effort. You’ve already highlighted the principle. Should Self Storage facilities check you belongings in case some bootleg DVDs exist? The user’s rights against unreasonable search supersede other’s rights to DMCA. Get a warrant and then have the authorities check.

            Companies are NOT law enforcement. The Emperor only believes in the 4th Amendment as it applies to Apple’s interests.

  4. This shows why having Apple write the code for a back door for the “good guys” is a REALLY bad idea. There is no possible way to keep it secure if something like this couldn’t be kept secure.

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