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Apple confirms it intentionally left iOS kernel code unencrypted

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Apple recently announced the latest version of its mobile OS — the iOS 10 — at the annual developers conference in San Francisco. A slew of new feature additions including, Siri SDK, universal copy-paste and messaging changes were introduced at the keynote event. But, no one saw this huge unexpected surprise coming when they downloaded the iOS 10 developer preview.

Interestingly, the Cupertino giant left the heart of its operating system — the kernel — unencrypted to allow security researchers to tinker with it. First discovered by security researchers at MIT Technology Review, they thought that Apple has made a terrible mistake and left their kernels unattended. But Apple has now confirmed that they have left them unencrypted intentionally.

In the recent past, the company has kept inner workings of their OS under wraps, but the lack of encryption doesn’t — at all — mean that iOS 10 is any less secure. It just means that dev folks and researchers are now at an ease and don’t have to reverse engineer the kernel code. They now have the option to directly poke around into the internal kernels of the software and report any security flaws that come to light.

And if you’re thinking right now, that you can modify the internal kernels and use the iOS preview to trick people into using malicious software, well you’re sadly mistaken. Even though the kernel has been exposed to the public for the first time, Apple has included a security measure that prevents kernel modification. And if you’re wondering, why would Apple do that, then

The kernel cache doesn’t contain any user info, and by unencrypting it we’re able to optimize the operating system’s performance without compromising security,

an Apple spokesperson told TechCrunch.

With this move, Apple has now begun to support transparency in terms of security of its devices running its proprietary software. And opening up the code for further inspection also makes sense, in the light of recent face-off with the FBI. Originally, the agency wanted Apple to help break into the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, but then it used a team of unidentified hackers to break into the device.

So, it means that Apple is now giving you the power to make the iOS more secure and impenetrable. Now, that developers will be able to tip Cupertino about certain security flaws in the core of the OS, FBI and hackers will find it difficult to apply any more backdoors.


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