Apple goes public with iOS security features

By Marcos Colon on Jun 4, 2012 1:21 PM
Filed under Security

Reveals engineering for first time.

Notoriously private Apple has decided to go public with its iOS security features, releasing a detailed guide this week that highlights the technical specifications of its products.

The 18-page document, considered the computing giant's first public address of its security engineering, covers system architecture, encryption, data protection and network security for devices running on iOS, which includes the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

Although a majority of the features discussed in the report have been uncovered by researchers through reverse engineering, one notable topic covered by the document is the multiple security layers implemented into each iOS device.

“The combination of required code signing, sandboxing and entitlements in apps provides solid protection against viruses, malware and other exploits that compromise the security of other platforms,” states the manual.

Additionally, the report includes insight into the mobile operating system's use of address space layout randomisation (ASLR), a feature designed to mitigate exploits and stifle saboteurs from corrupting a device's memory with malware.

ASLR was previously assumed to be in use by researchers, but the topic was never publicly discussed by Apple.

“Built-in apps use ASLR to ensure that all memory regions are random­ized upon launch,” the security report stated. "Additionally, system shared library locations are randomized at each device startup."

Although Apple has primarily played its cards close to its chest when it comes to security, the information in the guide could signify a shift in its communication with the public. Charles Miller, principal research consultant at Accuvant Labs, believes the company may be more concerned with its “acceptance in the enterprise market.”

“[The guide] is located on the enterprise portion of the website,” Miller said.

While the guide is a sign that Apple is coming out of its security shell, Miller says that this shouldn't be seen as a new stance on the topic.

“I've thought that a few times…and have been proven wrong, so from now on I need more convincing before I say that again.”

A spokesperson for Apple was not available for comment.

This article originally appeared at

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