Saturday, 24 August, 2019

Apple's $1 Million Bug Bounty Comes Under Fire

The warning displayed when an aftermarket battery is used Apple Software Locks iPhone Batteries to Prevent Independent Repair
Emmett Howard | 13 August, 2019, 10:44

The program was exclusively for iOS devices, which is something that has been criticized by security specialist and technology analysts, who argued Apple should expand the program.

Unlike its bug bounty program, the iOS Security Research Device Program, as it is named, will be invite-only; however, applications are open to everyone.

On stage at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, Apple's head of security engineering and architecture announced on Thursday significant changed for this new phase of the program.

Apple is also expanding its bug-bounty program, which it launched three years ago, to include its Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV operating systems as well as iOS.

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Apple's decision to offer a $1m bug bounty has been criticized as potentially creating collusion opportunities and perverse incentives. Hackers search for security flaws missed by internal teams, and instead of exploiting the bugs, they submit them back to the programs for financial rewards. From concentrating only on iOS, the quest is now also open for macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. In earlier years, the security researcher has shown that various flaws in the macOS platform. Notably, these "research fused" iPhones will also be more specialized than the "dev fused" iPhones that security researchers have had access to thus far, with setups designed expressly for tracking down security bugs, including ssh access, a root shell, and advanced debug capabilities. In the Art of Repair's video on the issue, after swapping a genuine Apple battery for a third party battery in an iPhone XS, the phone displayed a "service" message followed by an "Important Battery Message" stating that the phone is "unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple battery".

These iPhones will be part of the company's iOS Security Research Device program, which provides a special version of the company's smartphone to select security researchers who apply.

For those who are security researchers, this obviously means much better support and potential payouts.

Meanwhile, a group of hackers recently discovered some flaws in Apple's software, which would allow hackers to gain access to iPhones simply by sending a message. "But Apple refuses to make this software available to anyone but themselves and Apple Authorized Service Providers". Apple's previous highest bounty was $200,000 for friendly reports of bugs that can then be fixed with software updates and not leave them exposed to criminals or spies.

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