After unveiling the iOS 10 at its WWDC event earlier this month, Apple pushed out the beta version of the mobile operating system to developers to see what’s new. The iOS 10 had a big surprise that initially led many to believe that it was a shocking mistake. A company that closely guards its prized operating system from unwanted probing had left the iOS 10 kernel unencrypted.
Why Apple left it unencrypted
The kernel is the “heart” of the operating system. Turns out, it was an intentional move. An Apple spokesperson told TechCrunch Wednesday that the kernel cache doesn’t contain any user information, so keeping it unencrypted will not compromise security. Apple left the core of the iOS 10 unencrypted to optimize its performance without compromising user security.
In the previous versions of the OS, the kernel was encrypted. The kernel controls how apps can access the hardware of the iPhone or iPad. Leaving it unencrypted will allow security researchers for the first time to play around with the core of the iOS and look for potential weaknesses. White hat security experts find and report vulnerabilities publicly to make consumer devices more secure.
iOS 10 may affect the business of gray hat experts
Apple has assured that the lack of kernel encryption will not make the iOS 10 less secure. Since security researchers can now find flaws more quickly and easily, they can be patched faster. The Cupertino company has been so secretive that many security experts initially thought it was a glaring oversight rather than an intentional move.
The iPhone maker’s shift towards transparency could negatively affect the “gray hat” security experts who find loopholes in the iOS and sell them to corporations or government agencies for hefty profits. Earlier this year, Apple was locked in a battle with the FBI over the unlocking the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter. But FBI dropped the case against Apple after it cracked the iPhone with the help of a third-party.