Liberating iOS devices from Apple’s walled garden has become increasingly difficult with Apple strengthening its security measures with every update. It means the iOS 12 jailbreak will not be an easy feat. Apple has fixed most of the exploits that developers had used to jailbreak iOS 11 and early beta versions of iOS 12. However, security researchers and the wider jailbreak community are aware that the software may still contain tons of exploits that could be used to liberate iOS devices.
Developer gains kernel read/write access in iOS 12 beta 12
It looks like one security researcher has already found an exploit in the iOS 12 beta 12. Apple is expected to release the final build of iOS 12 to the public later this month, most likely on September 19th. Researcher Simone Ferrini said in a tweet that he and his colleagues had not only identified the exploit in iOS 12 beta 12, but also achieved kernel read/write access.
iOS 12 beta 12 pwned. (Kernel Memory R/W) with @jndok and @f_roncari – WE DID IT ? pic.twitter.com/dDj9IuKZn4
— Simone Ferrini (@Simone_Ferrini) September 7, 2018
The work done by Ferrini and his colleagues is no guarantee that it would lead to a final iOS 12 jailbreak. However, it could become an important part of a public jailbreak down the road. Also, since Ferrini has made it public before the iOS 12 rollout, Apple could fix the loophole in the final build. Ferrini works for a company called TRUEL IT.
The researcher’s tweet also included a video showing off an iPhone connected to a terminal session. The video confirms that Ferrini and his colleagues have achieved the kernel read/write access. The developers are unlikely to put all the pieces of an iOS 12 jailbreak together by themselves. They could notify Apple about the exploit as part of the tech giant’s bug bounty program. Or they might have made it public just to show off their capabilities.
Will be ever see a full-fledged iOS 12 jailbreak?
Last week, another developer going by Twitter name nullpixel said the iOS 12 included a few things that would “make jailbreaking harder.” It includes CoreTrust, which aims to prevent fake signing by ensuring that all signatures come from Apple. However, nullpixel pointed out that exploits were still possible, suggesting an iOS 12 jailbreak is not impossible. Nullpixel is part of the Electra team that released the Electra jailbreak tool for the iOS 11.3.1.
iOS 12 has a few things that’ll make jailbreaking harder:
– introduction of CoreTrust: this checks that all signatures come from Apple, supposedly stopping fake signing like ldid does
– vm_map_exec_lockdown: some form of userland ktrr, coming w/ the A12 (probably, unconfirmed)
— nullpixel (@nullriver) September 4, 2018
Nullpixel remains optimistic about the iOS 12 jailbreak. They said in another tweet, “There will be a jailbreak for a signed iOS 12 version. Not 100% confident but pretty sure.”
On one hand, Apple is making it harder for developers to liberate iOS devices. On the other, users are losing interest in jailbreaking as it voids the warranty on their devices. Jailbreaking also exposes devices to hacking and malware attempts, and could render the iPhones and iPads inoperable. In many cases, it could also disrupt normal apps and services such as Apple Pay, FaceTime, iMessage, iCloud, and even third-party apps.
It will be interesting to see whether the iOS 12 jailbreak will become available to the public soon after Apple rolls out the software to the public, or there will be a long wait. Also, we should be open to the possibility that the jailbreak may never arrive at all.
Back in June when Apple released the iOS 12 beta to developers, a Chinese security researcher was able to jailbreak iOS 12 on the iPhone X. Chinese researcher Liang Chen of Tencent Keen Lab demonstrated their iOS 12 jailbreak by installing Cydia on the iPhone X. In the demo video, Chen opened the Settings app to prove that the device was running iOS 12 beta. They were able to download Cydia without requiring additional hardware.
Apple has reportedly already fixed the bugs exploited by Chen after Tencent Keen Lab reported the loopholes in the beta software to Apple. The Tencent Keen Lab performs security research on operating systems such as iOS, Windows 10, and Android.
Apple is set to launch three new iPhones at its Gather Round event on September 12. All the three devices will run iOS 12 out of the box. The new software will bring a host of new features and performance improvements. The Cupertino company promises the iOS 12 will offer 50% faster keyboard display and 70% faster swipe to the camera, even on older devices. Recent tests have shown that the iOS 12 will indeed be faster than its predecessor.
The iOS 12 will also bring features like Siri shortcuts, better Control Center, enhanced parental controls, Screen Time, Memoji, improved augmented reality, and a revamped Stocks app. The Screen Time feature will allow you to monitor and control how much time you spend on your device and within individual apps.