Apple launches the “Security Research Device” program for security researchers and hackers. Here’s all you need to know about it.
Table of Contents
Apple’s Security Research Device Program goes live
Security Research Device program aims to provide “jailbroken” devices to independent security researchers. Unlocked devices will let hackers access the various components of the iOS operating system.
According to Apple, a “Security Research Device” is a device that comes with root access and lets you configure the entitlements. It behaves just like a regular iPhone but is meant to be used in a controlled research environment.
This will allow researchers to access test devices that are only available for Apple’s internal security team. If you are a security researcher, you can apply to the program here.
Apple intends to lease SRDs on a 12-month basis. These devices are not meant for personal use and remain the sole property of Apple.
Unsurprisingly, Apple has stringent vulnerability disclosure restrictions in place for this program. This is to dissuade security teams like Google Project Zero from using security research devices.
It looks like we won't be able to use the Apple "Security Research Device" due to the vulnerability disclosure restrictions, which seem specifically designed to exclude Project Zero and other researchers who use a 90 day policy.
— Ben Hawkes (@benhawkes) July 22, 2020
Despite what many may believe, the Security Research Device program does not target the jailbreak community.
This program is aimed solely at professional researchers. It incentivizes vulnerability discovery by independent security teams and individuals.
Researchers who discover bugs with an SRD will automatically become eligible for the Apple Security Bounty program.
How to get an Apple Security Research Device (for free)
What if we told you that you can get your hands on an Apple SRD for free. Don’t believe us?
Grab an A11 device (preferably iPhone X) and install checkra1n and KTRW kernel debugger on it.
For those who don’t know, KTRW is an iOS kernel debugger for devices with the A11 Bionic processor. It is developed by Google Project Zero.
We also recommend getting a Bonobo JTAG/SWD Debug cable for debugging.
That’s all there’s to it. You now have a homebrew Apple security research device!