Apple is reportedly sending jailbroken iPhones to security researchers and developers to help find vulnerabilities in the devices.
Speaking to Business Insider, security researcher Gergely Kalman from Spain said the jailbroken device would allow experts to run arbitrary code to search for vulnerabilities and bugs. Apple previously offered a $1 million reward to bug discoverers in 2019 and announced it would soon send “special” iPhone versions to security researchers.
These efforts by Apple are designed to prevent potential exploits from occurring after increasing abuse by hackers. Just last December, Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky discovered one of the “most sophisticated” 0-day vulnerabilities in iOS. This allows hackers to exploit Apple’s iMessage file attachment feature to bypass iOS’s hardware-based memory protections to take full control of the device. Notably, hackers can infiltrate and steal sensitive data without the user even opening the corrupted message.
Although Apple later patched the vulnerability, Kaspersky still criticized Apple because its devices are never truly secure in the context of increasingly evolving cyber attack methods.
The image posted by Kalman shows a jailbroken iPhone that will allow developers to investigate the system in the same state as the client. Researchers can add developer tools and platform privileges to the device through its subsystem. These special iPhones have not gone through the complete production process and are not available for widespread use.
Jailbreaking an iPhone is equivalent to rooting an Android device, which allows users to modify the phone’s operating system. Non-developers should not root or jailbreak their phones as it can break the device system in the process, even losing the Apple ID.