Apple is generally secretive about leaks, be its software updates or renders of upcoming iPhones. So how does one explain the leaks regarding features of iOS 14, months prior to when the update is due? Secrets can, apparently, be bought for a price.
According to the website Motherboard, the leak can be traced to someone purchasing on the black market , a developer-only iPhone 11 in China. The price? “Thousands of dollars.” Such phones are sold by manufacturers to groups of people who devise apps for upcoming software so that there is seamless integration with the operating system after it is rolled out.
The software version dates back to December, but such a phone had been procured and the OS extracted. It has hence been distributed to researchers and hackers since “at least” February, the report claims. Apple did not comment. The Cupertino-based company is expected to preview iOS 14 at the WWDS in June, and it is difficult to gauge how the leaks will impact the final product.
It is likely that Apple has modified or changed a few features since February to negate the head start hackers have in exposing security flaws, if any. Those given early access to software help make security assessments. The feedback is incorporated into the final software product so that gaps have been filled by the time a commercial rollout is viable.
Hackers will then have to start from scratch as users migrate to the new system. Loose code underline the challenges Apple has been faced with apropos leaks. The product development team relies, for both software and hardware updates, on feedback from its chain of suppliers and partners. A single unprincipled person can upset the company’s launch plans.
While it can vet app developers before bringing them on board to minimize risk, it remains impossible to completely avoid breaches in the future, given the global scale of the supply chain and the geopolitical tensions between China and the United States post Covid-19.
Motherboard reports that five sources have confirmed that the developer-only phone running iOS 14 was purchased in China, and then passed on to the jail-breaking community to extract the code. This development comes in the backdrop of a protracted trade war between the United States and China, a casualty of which has been Huawei.
Newly-released Huawei phones will not be able to use Google apps and software. A recent order prohibits US chip manufacturers from selling to Huawei. The Chinese manufacturer has been scrambling its resources to come up with its own operating system HarmonyOS that will take on the likes of Android and iOS.
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