After taking wraps off iOS 10 at the WWDC 2016 earlier this month, Apple had released the iOS 10 beta for developers. While it gave developers an early access to test features of iOS 10, it also came with a big surprise. It was recently discovered that the beta version of the iOS 10 does not come with an encrypted kernel. Also Read - iPhone 13 to come with faster charging as compared to iPhone 12Also Read - Apple TV Plus for free: PS5 owners get six months subscription free of cost
For those unaware, the kernel is the core part of any operating system. It not only enforces security protocols, but also controls how apps can use the hardware components of the device. There is a good side and a bad side of having an unencrypted kernel. Firstly, it can be a boon to the modding and jailbreaking community as they can get an easy access to the platform. On the bad side, visibility to the kernel code could mean that hackers could easily exploit bugs, create apps carrying malware and more. Also Read - This photo shot with iPhone X by an Indian wins iPhone Photography Awards
While it was initially believed that Apple might have left the kernel unencrypted by mistake, the company spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that the move was intentional. The kernel cache doesn t contain any user info, and by unencrypting it we re able to optimize the operating system s performance without compromising security, an Apple spokesperson said.
The move shows that Apple might be shifting towards offering greater transparency. Also, lack of encryption doesn t mean less security. Giving developers the same visibility to kernel code could allow security-conscious tinkerers to find bugs and potential weakness in the early development. They can then report this to Apple for patching before the final software is released to the general users.
The issue of encryption comes weeks after Apple and FBI had locked horns over the issue of unlocking an iPhone of the main accused in San Bernardino shooting case. FBI had asked Apple to create a backdoor entry to access the iOS, but Apple had strongly opposed the demand. Later, FBI paid an Israeli company some $15,000 to unlock the iPhone. With the move to unencrypt kernel code, Apple can close loopholes in its operating system, making it difficult for government agencies to gain unauthorized access on iOS devices. However, it remains to be seen if the move will pay off for Apple.