Ian Beer, a well-known security researcher at Google who is also a part of Google Project Zero, released a tool for iOS 11.1.2, a recent version of Apple’s operating system, which allows security researchers and other developers to hack Apple’s os. The tool is powered by an exploit of Beer.
If you are unaware of Google’s Project Zero, it’s goal is to identify bugs and exploits in all kinds of software of various companies to make them safer.
Ian believes this exploit called “tfp0” could be a basis for a jailbreak of future iOS devices such as iPhones and iPads. He says this should work on all iOS devices running iOS 11.1.2 or below but personally, he tested the tool on iPhone 7, iPhone 6s, and a sixth-generation iPod touch.
tfp0 should work for all devices, the PoC local kernel debugger only for those I have to test on (iPhone 7, 6s and iPod Touch 6G) but adding more support should be easy
— Ian Beer (@i41nbeer) December 11, 2017
He teased the release on December 5 last week in a tweet asking the iOS 11 kernel security researchers to keep a research-only device on iOS 11.1.2 or below.
If you're interested in bootstrapping iOS 11 kernel security research keep a research-only device on iOS 11.1.2 or below. Part I (tfp0) release soon.
— Ian Beer (@i41nbeer) December 5, 2017
Beer told Motherboard that his goal is to allow other experts and security researchers to explore and test iOS security layers without the need to develop their own exploits. While it might seem surprising that Google would release a tool to hack a device from a competitor, the company is actually helping a lot of security researchers in avoiding the need to buy tools which in general are costly. Because iPhone is one of the hardest consumer devices to hack, and researchers who can do that publish the tools they use at higher prices.
However, iOS 11.1.2 is no l0nger the current version of iOS as Apple released iOS 11.2 on December 2, but Apple is still signing iOS 11.1.2 at this time. Now that tfp0 exploit has been released Apple may stop signing the older update sooner.
Jailbreaking iOS devices dropped in popularity in recent years leading to the closure of two major Cydia repositories. ModMy and ZodTTD/MacCiti which provided apps and themes for jailbroken iOS devices were shut down in November. Currently, iOS 11 remains to be the only iOS version that has not been jailbroken.