Apple confirms iOS 10 kernel was left open to improve performance

Apple has confirmed to TechCrunch that the opening up of the iOS 10 kernel was an intentional decision on its part, citing performance optimizations as the main motivator for the move. Speaking to TechCrunch, an Apple spokesperson noted that “The kernel cache doesn’t contain any user info, and by unencrypting it we’re able to optimize the operating system’s performance without compromising security.”
A recent report from MIT Technology Review revealed that security researchers had discovered that the kernel in the iOS 10 Developer Preview had been left unencrypted and therefore open to examination by security experts for the first time in the history of Apple’s mobile operating system. While there was some speculation that this may have been unintentional, most experts agreed that it would be such an obvious and elementary mistake that the move had to be a sign of greater transparency and more open security. Although Apple has explained the move as being primarily for improving performance, an obvious side effect of the open kernel is that security researchers will now be able to scrutinize the security features in Apple’s core iOS code for flaws and exploits, not only leading to improved security in Apple’s mobile operating system, but also weakening the commercial market for exploitation of security flaws, such as the method used by the FBI in the San Bernardino case.


Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.