Apple is set to give security researchers special iPhones that are set up to make it easier for them to discover security issues, according to a report by Forbes. Apple is apparently gearing up to announce the move during the Black Hat security conference this week.
The devices won’t be available to anyone who asks for one, though. Forbes says that they will only be provided to those who are part of Apple’s invite-only bug bounty program where researchers are paid for any bugs that are discovered.
Apple reportedly said that similar iPhones would be made available as early as 2016, although they’re only just getting around to it.
While the iPhones will be less secure than those that Apple sells, it’s believed that they will be more locked down than the internal devices that Apple’s employees use themselves.
One source with knowledge of the Apple announcement said they would essentially be “dev devices.” Think of them as iPhones that allow the user to do a lot more than they could on a traditionally locked-down iPhone. For instance, it should be possible to probe pieces of the Apple operating system that aren’t easily accessible on a commercial iPhone. In particular, the special devices could allow hackers to stop the processor and inspect memory for vulnerabilities.
Alongside this move Apple is also aid to be ready to launch a new Mac bug bounty program similar to its iPhone one. Apple has previously drawn criticism for not offering such a program, especially by those who have spotted serious security flaws within macOS recently. They refused to share the details of the flaw with Apple due to the lack of a bug bounty program.
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