Gov’t-Approved Jailbreaking: Special iPhones for Bug Hunting Revealed

On February 2nd, security researcher Gergely Kalman shared a picture on social media, revealing that he had received Apple’s security research device along with some complimentary items. The text on the paper in the bottom right corner is the official instructions for the security research device.

The official instructions in the bottom right corner mention:

“We have streamlined the process of running existing tools on the security research device. Through the cryptex subsystem, you can sideload your tools, which will run with platform permissions and any level of access you desire. This allows the rest of the security policies to remain enabled, providing flexibility for jailbroken devices while keeping the system you are researching in a state similar to that of a customer.”

Image Source: Pexels

In 2019, Apple announced that it would start sending a “special” version of the iPhone to some security researchers for the purpose of finding vulnerabilities and reporting them back to Apple for fixes. In 2020, the company began distributing these devices, designed to disable certain security features to make it easier for researchers to discover flaws in iOS.

Apple has long been in conflict with jailbreakers, aiming to prevent people from disabling security features on iPhones. However, from the instructions provided this time, it seems that Apple has embraced the term “jailbroken.”

According to Kalman, his security research device is the same as an iPhone 14 Pro, with the only difference being the text “Security Research Device” and an Apple hotline number at the bottom of the lock screen, presumably for reporting in case of loss.

Additionally, Kalman mentioned that there is a special label on the box stating “Do Not Remove” and “Property of Apple Inc.,” along with a serial number. There is also a marking on the side of the phone that reads: “Property of Apple Inc. Confidential and Proprietary,” along with contact information.

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