Earlier this week, the iBoot source code of iOS 9 was leaked on Github. Cited as the ‘biggest leak in history,’ the leak was downplayed by Apple saying the security of its devices does not depend on the secrecy of their source code. However, many people still wondered how the leak occurred and who inside Apple leaked it.
As per Motherboard, a low-level Apple employee working at the company’s headquarters in 2016 was encouraged by his friends in his jailbreaking community to take the source code. This employee had no grudges against Apple and only took it to share it with his friends in the jailbreaking community for their research purposes. The code was originally shared with a group of five people.
“He pulled everything, all sorts of Apple internal tools and whatnot,” a friend of the intern told me. Motherboard saw screenshots of additional source code and file names that were not included in the GitHub leak and were dated from around the time of this first leak.
The original group realized from the very get-go that the source code could not be leaked outside of the group due to the legal implications it may possibly have. Additionally, there was always the possibility of ill-intentioned people using the source code to create exploits and malicious jailbreaks for iPhone users.
However, a year after the code was initially stolen, one member of the group gave it to someone else “who shouldn’t have had it.” No one in the group of 5 is clear as to who leaked the code first and what happened after that. But the damage was already done. This source code then slowly made its into the hand of more people, including some people familiar with the jailbreaking community, a jailbreaking group on Discord, and more.
The source code has been circulating on the web since early 2017, and it was even posted on Reddit at one point. The Github leak was not posted by one of the five people who originally got their hands on the source code. It was not even the full leak and was termed as a copy by one.
The original group of friends who got their hands on the source code has already deleted their copies as they don’t want to be a part of leaking it to the public. They also realize what has happened here is disastrous and unfortunate.
“When I heard about that Discord group, I burned all the copies of iBoot that I had,” they said. “I don’t need it anymore, and if this is going public I don’t want to be part of leaking it. If it gets out there it gets out there but it is not coming from me.”
An Apple employee also confirmed that they knew about the leak even before it was posted on GitHub, though he did not provide any other information.