iPhone Hardware Security

A BBC article with the headline “iPhones ‘disabled’ if Apple detects third-party repairs” caught my eye and my first reaction was, “now they’ve gone too far”.  I’ve been an iPhone user since just before the 3GS.  I’ve cracked open iPhones for myself, and others, to replace batteries, cracked screens and even solder back on a home button back on a 3GS.  To me the idea of paying for a device that I’m not allowed to open is ridiculous. Then I read the article which stated that this was about the touchID sensor.  That makes sense to me.  Apple has gone to great lengths and put security first in their iPhone architecture.  We expect, and rightfully so, that these device makers do everything they can to protect the unprecedented amount of our important information stored in our phones.  An attacker with physical access to a device is a more serious threat to protect from.  While we know our iPhones are encrypted it seems Apple knows that their is a potential attack surface in the touchID module and has incorporated a safeguard to mitigate it.

Now, what the article doesn’t mention, and we could look to ifixit.com to answer, is if you can still open the phone, change a battery or a cracked screen without disturbing the touchID and causing this error.

I’ve thought about the idea of switching platforms a few times.  As a programmer I’d like to have the option of compiling and side-loading an app without having to buy a Mac or pay Apple.  The thing that has kept me loyal to the iPhone, besides the lack of apps for Windows phone, and the chaos of the Android platform, is Apples attention to security.

As usual I think the headline paints a picture of the sky falling when really it’s just a rainstorm.

With that said, keep making sure your OS, whatever it is, is up to date.  TechTimes had a story this morning about an iOS update with numerous security patches but my phone is still reporting it is up to date.

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