An iPhone 8 Plus surrounded by a multitude of cables and cords

According to an article by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai at Motherboard, this morning Google released a powerful tool that helps security researchers hack into (and find bugs in) iOS 11.1.2. The creator of the tool, security expert and ethical hacker Ian Beer, is a member of Google's Project Zero — a collective of researchers whose goal is to make all software safe to use. Beer first announced that he'd be rolling out the exploit last week on his Twitter page.

In a chat with Motherboard, Google said that Beer's aim in releasing this tool is "to allow other security researchers to explore and test the security layers of iOS without needing to develop and find their own exploits." That way, as many researchers as possible can search for bugs in iOS that they can then report to Apple so they can be remedied. Though Franceschi-Bicchierai noted that Apple hasn't publicly commented on the tool's release, the exploit has since been patched. (That means if you're a researcher who plans on turning Beer's exploit into a full-on jailbreak, you definitely shouldn't update just yet.)

As for why Google — one of Apple's competitors — would want any part of improving an Apple device's functionality, Franceschi-Bicchierai points out that it "actually makes a lot of sense":

The iPhone is one of the hardest consumer devices to hack, and researchers who can do that and are able to find bugs in it rarely report the bugs or publish the tools they use because they are so valuable. But Google Project Zero researchers don't need the money, and their mission is precisely to make all software, especially that owned by other companies, safer.


How do you feel about Google releasing this hacking tool (and Apple's subsequent patch to prevent it from being used)? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!