Apple will offer a modified version of the iPhone to security researchers as part of its bug-bounty program, the company announced at the Black Hat cybersecurity conference on Thursday. It’s the first time Apple has ever offered special devices specifically for security research purposes in this way.
These iPhones will be part of the company’s iOS Security Research Device program, which provides a special version of the company’s smartphone to select security researchers who apply. The program is open for researchers with a proven track record of making impactful security-oriented contributions, with the goal being to make it easier for experienced bug hunters to work on Apple’s devices.
The phones that are part of Apple’s security research program will be much different than your typical iPhone. These smartphones will come with advanced debugging capabilities and a root shell, among other modifications designed to make the software more open and accessible for researchers.
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Apple hasn’t said how many applications it will be accepting into the program.
The iOS Security Research Device program is one of several updates to its bug-bounty program that Apple announced at the conference. The company also upped the maximum amount of money it will pay out to researchers who find flaws, including a $1 million reward for those who execute a specific iPhone vulnerability that makes it possible to gain control of a device without requiring any user interaction.
Apple is also expanding its bug-bounty program, which it launched three years ago, to include its Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV operating systems as well as iOS.