Software and hardware design leaks are nothing new. And for big tech companies like Apple, they're almost inevitable. Apple is so secretive about their products that even the smallest leaks become big news every time.
We've seen leaks of iPhone designs, software code, and confidential internal memos and they always lit the tech world ablaze.
The latest leak that's making the rounds now is particularly interesting since it's not about any future product in the pipeline. It's actually an old version of iOS software that can potentially have big security implications.
I'm talking about the secret iPhone code that was recently leaked on open-source software site GitHub. The code, labeled "iBoot," reportedly contains critical boot files for iOS. This means it may have revealed how Apple secures the iPhone's startup process.
"This is the biggest leak in history," iOS and macOS security expert Jonathan Levin told Motherboard. "It's a huge deal."
Levin said that the code appears authentic since it matches the iOS code he reverse engineered himself.
The iBoot code has since been taken down from GitHub because of a copyright infringement notice from Apple. However, it is likely that it is now being widely distributed online.
How old is the code exactly?
The leaked code appears to be from iOS 9, a version released more than two years ago.
Security researchers are warning that although the code is old, portions of it may still be in use today.
This gives iOS hackers a better chance of finding exploitable flaws that could allow them to crack an iPhone or develop new jailbreaking methods.
New reports are saying that a low-level Apple employee associated with the jailbreaking community is responsible for the leak.
Motherboard said the employee brought home the code in 2016 to share it with a few friends in the jailbreaking scene. These people reportedly wanted the code for their security research.
The code eventually found its way on Reddit four months ago and finally, GitHub last week.
Aside from the iBoot code, the employee also acquired additional Apple internal tools that have not been publicly leaked yet.
Are you at risk?
In response, Apple downplayed the risks of the leaked code, saying that the security of an iPhone doesn't really rely on secret code.
"Old source code from three years ago appears to have been leaked, but by design the security of our products doesn’t depend on the secrecy of our source code," Apple said in an official statement.
"There are many layers of hardware and software protections built into our products, and we always encourage customers to update to the newest software releases to benefit from the latest protections."
This means if your iPhone is compatible, update it to the latest version of iOS as soon as possible.
Although the leaked code doesn't put iPhone users at immediate risk, it's possible that newer methods of iPhone jailbreaking could emerge.
How to update to iOS 11
Here's how to get the latest iOS version for your iPhone.
Go to your "Settings" app and select "General." From there, select "Software Update" and your device will begin to check for updates. Then select "Download and Install" to get the latest version.
To get the update from iTunes, connect your device to a computer, open iTunes, and select your device from the menu in your iTunes Library. Select "Summary" and then click on "Check for Update." Finally, select "Download and Update" and wait for the update to sync to your device.
In other news, these are all the exciting new Apple products we're expecting in 2018
Leaks aside, 2017 was a profitable year for Apple. Despite a fall in iPhone sales, the company actually posted its biggest quarterly profit of all time. Will 2018 be any different? With all the new Apple products we're expecting to see this year, it looks promising and the company might break its own records yet again.