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iPhone Hacking Reward
iPhone Hacking Reward
Apple’s iOS iPhone operating system is generally regarded as being more secure, or maybe that should be less insecure than Android in the smartphone space. The launch of a new Apple Platinum Security Guide details the reasons why. None of which means the iPhone isn’t susceptible to security exploits as headlines in recent months have demonstrated. It was recently discovered that an attacker could lock iPhone users out of their devices if they don’t update to iOS 13.3 for example. Earlier, when the iPhone 11 was on pre-order, it was revealed that there would be an iOS 13 security vulnerability included right out of the box. And who can forget, certainly not Apple I would wager, when Google researchers found an Apple iMessage vulnerability meant they could remotely access iOS device files?
The point is that every operating system, every application, has the potential to come complete with vulnerabilities that can be exploited if found. I’d go so far as to say you could probably remove the “potential” bit of that statement; just because a vulnerability hasn’t been found yet, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Indeed, the market for zero-day vulnerabilities, those that have been found by threat actors but are unknown to the vendor or the information security community, can fetch millions if auctioned off by 0day brokers to the highest bidder. They can also cause chaos if used in the wild, and nation-state sponsored Advanced Persistent Threat (ATP) attack teams are most notorious in this regard. Now Apple is seeking to address the balance by opening its bug bounty hunter program to a broader audience this week.
The Apple bug bounty program
Apple is not alone in having a bug bounty program; the majority of big names in technology have systems in place to encourage the responsible discovery of security vulnerabilities in return for financial rewards. There are even specialist bug bounty services, such as HackerOne which has already made millionaires of six ethical hackers using the platform. Apple is, however, offering some of the most significant bounties on specific types of vulnerability and when presented in a particular way. How big? How does $1 million (£767,000) grab you for a “zero-click kernel code execution with persistence and kernel PAC bypass,” for example? If you like that, you’ll like it even more when you realize that there’s an additional $500,000 (£383,000) in the reward pot if the issue is unknown to Apple and unique to designated developer betas and public betas.
Show me the money
If that sounds a little convoluted, that’s because it is. Although the Apple bug bounty program is now open to all security researchers, it remains somewhat complicated in terms of eligibility for an actual Apple security bounty payment to be made. The full details are explained on the Apple Security Bounty pages and start simply enough: “the issue must occur on the latest publicly available versions of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, or watchOS with a standard configuration and, where relevant, on the latest publicly available hardware.” iphone hacking
Things continue nice and easy with a requirement of being the first person to report the issue if you want the reward and agreeing not to disclose it before the official Apple security advisory is made public. The requirement for a clear report with a working exploit might take some researchers by surprise. Quite often, a security researcher will provide what’s known as a “proof of concept” when reporting a vulnerability, this details how an exploit might work in theory. Apple will still pay under such circumstances but at no more than half of the maximum bounty rate. “Reports lacking necessary information to enable Apple to efficiently reproduce the issue will result in a significantly reduced bounty payment,” the Apple requirements state, “if accepted at all.” To get a chance of the big bucks, hackers will have to provide not only enough information for Apple to be able to reproduce the issue at hand but also a “reasonably reliable exploit.”
Some of the other requirements for maximizing a payout are somewhat vague; Apple says it is particularly interested in issues that “are novel,” for example. Without clarifying a contextual definition of what novel means here.
How to claim your iPhone hacking reward
All that said, if you’ve hacked an iPhone and fancy your chances at picking up a handsome reward, you can now email your report directly to:
[email protected] iphone hacking
Apple requests that all such reports are encrypted with the Apple Product Security PGP Key and include all relevant videos, crash logs and system diagnosis reports.
If you are not an iPhone hacker yourself but are concerned about security threats to your smartphone, then head over and read How To Secure Your iPhone: 12 Experts Reveal 26 Essential Security Tips.