The Kernel’s Secret Recipe…
iOS10 Kernel is unencrypted … a deliberate Apple ploy or a silly mistake?
Given the open source nature of Android’s OS, for a long time, it’s been a common belief that Apple iOS devices are, by default are more “safe” in the Enterprise than Android. That’s until now …
Some security experts who inspected the new (beta) version of iOS got a big surprise: MIT Technology Review has found that the kernel of the first developer preview of iOS10 is unencrypted, thus giving anyone the opportunity to examine the code.
This means the ‘bad guys’ can now access the OS and have the potential to find a route into your device. Fortunately, it also gives the ‘good guys’ the opportunity to spot any flaws and help close them thus improving security and functionality.
All previous iOS kernels have been encrypted by Apple: so why the change?
Apple insists this doesn’t compromise the security of iOS10, and there are both pros and cons to making it available for inspection. Security researchers are unsure whether the move was intentional or a mistake?
As the Kernel is the heart of the operating system, any attack at this level would potentially be extremely dangerous as a result. The Kernel is the lynchpin to a device’s operation. It controls how programs can use a device’s hardware and enforces security.
Apple has previously encrypted the Kernel in iOS releases, hiding its exact workings and forcing researchers to find ways around or through it. This sudden jump from hidden to open in an existing OS means there is now a window of opportunity for the ‘bad guys’ to exploit anything they find before the good guys can close it. This is scary stuff.
As the unencrypted Kernel started to cause a commotion, Apple released a statement saying it had intentionally left the Kernel unencrypted—but not for security reasons:
“By unencrypting it we’re able to optimize the operating system’s performance without compromising security,” an Apple spokesman said.
Given the recent stand-off between Apple and the FBI and their request to help break the San Bernardino iPhone, some have suggested that by unencrypting the kernel, Apple is trying to put a stop to the burgeoning software exploits trade.
What does all this mean for me?
With an unencrypted Kernel, despite Apple’s reassurances it won’t compromise security – the message (as far as Mobliciti is concerned) is loud and clear. Relying on the OS to protect your data is effectively flying blind to the risks.
Mobile Threat Prevention (MTP) is now crucial to maintaining the security of your sensitive and confidential company data. By design, it is going to spot unusual behaviour on your device and take appropriate action.
This is our speciality, and with our Fully Managed Mobile Security service that incorporates the likes of Check Point and Appthority, we can take the hassle and worry out of MTP, leaving you to get on with your day job.