Apple has started shipping out special iPhones to help security researchers discover weaknesses in iOS. Apple announced its new Apple Security Research Device Program in July. However, they have only started rolling out the phones now.
Under the program terms, researchers get these special iPhones for a period of one year. They may extend the loan period. These iPhones are far less locked-down than regular iPhones. That makes it easier to find flaws that could help improve iOS security.
These iPhones are available only to individuals or organizations with a “proven track record of success in finding security issues on Apple platforms, or other modern operating systems” and platforms.
“As part of Apple’s commitment to security, this program is designed to help improve security for all iOS users, bring more researchers to iPhone, and improve efficiency for those who already work on iOS security,” Apple said.
Researchers must share vulnerability they discover with Apple. But this comes with a reward. As per Apple’s bug bounty, flaws discovered in iOS can net whoever finds them up to $1.5 million.
That might seem like a fair amount of cash (it is!). But it’s a lot less than Apple could find itself paying out in the event that a major vulnerability is exploited by hackers.