Security experts have found that the kernel of Apple's first developer preview of iOS 10 is unencrypted.
MIT Technology Review reports that anyone can examine the iOS 10 Beta kernel code, while Apple has encrypted all previous iOS kernels. The component known as the kernel is the heart of an operating system. It has the role to enforce security and to control how programs can use a device's hardware.
According to 9To5Mac, in previous iOS releases Apple used to always encrypt the kernel, forcing researchers to find ways around. But the kernel was left unencrypted in the preview version of iOS 10 released to developers last week.
While this doesn't really compromise the security of iOS 10, there are both pros and cons to making the operating system's kernel available for inspection. At first, security researchers were pondering whether the move was intentional or a mistake.
AppleInsider comes with a report that clarifies the matter. According to the publication, Apple has responded to the question why the iOS 10 beta kernel was left unencrypted. The high-tech company has confirmed on Wednesday, June 22, that the move was made deliberately in order to streamline system performance.
TechCrunch cites an Apple spokesperson who explained that the kernel of the new iOS 10 operating system does not need to be encrypted because it does not contain sensitive information. The operating system performance could be optimized without compromising security, since the kernel cache does not contain any user info.
Apple's decision allows for the first time security researchers to explore the "heart" of iOS. This is useful in particular for those researchers who explore vulnerabilities and potential weaknesses.
Apple's move could further discourage the iOS exploit market and the experts who sell software vulnerabilities to companies and government agencies. Apple is particularly interested in this issue. Just this year, the company was called in court by the U.S. Justice Department over data privacy.