The Apple iPhone is considered one of the safest smartphones on the planet. However, it is not immune to threatening vectors that can jailbreak the device. A newly discovered iOS exploit is so severe that it can cause permanent jailbreaks on millions of iPhones. This researcher was discovered by researcher axi0mX and is being dubbed as “Checkm8” (read checkmate). The BootROM vulnerability introduces permanent incompatible exploitation for hundreds of millions of active iOS devices.
Exploitation affects iPhones powered by older Apple A5 chips with newer Apple A11 chipsets. In other words, it affects devices ranging from iPhone 4S to iPhone 8 and iPhone X. Researchers point out that the exploit gives hackers deep access to iOS that Apple will be unable to block or patch it with future updates. While jailbreaking has lost its luster, this new feat will make it the biggest success for the hacking community. As a bootroom exploit, it takes advantage of a security vulnerability in initialization code that is loaded when iOS devices are booted.
The researcher notes that since this is ROM (read-only memory), it cannot be overwritten or patched by Apple. This leaves millions of devices exposed to hacks and permanent jailbreaks. The last iOS device to be exploited by Public BootROM was the iPhone 4, which was released in 2010. In a follow-up tweet, axi0mX notes that Apple patched a significant after-use vulnerability in the iBoot during the iBoot USB code over the summer. 2018. This bootroom exploit allowed to be discovered.
The vulnerability can only be triggered over USB and have the necessary physical access. It cannot be exploited remotely, which should be seen as a relief. While exploitation can be seen as a threat vector, it is also seen as a tool by jailbreakers and developers. “A bootrome exploit for older devices makes iOS better for everyone. Jailbreakers and tweak developers will be able to jailbreak their phones on the latest version, and they will not need to wait for jailbreaks on older iOS versions, ”the researcher explained.
If you own the iPhone X or older model then there is no need to panic you correctly. There is no real jailbreak available for Checkm8 yet and you cannot download a tool and crack an iPhone to make modifications. However, this will allow developers and researchers to use checkm8 as an entry point to the latest version of iOS on older devices and discover new bugs. Apple also accidentally caught a vulnerability that opens modern iOS devices to jailbreak. As Axi0mX notes, “Jailbreaking is not dead. Not anymore. Not today, not tomorrow, never in the next few years.”