Whopping $1 million offered to anyone who can hack iPhone’s iOS 9

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iOS 9 and the iPhone 6s are Apple’s most secure yet, but there are a lot of talented hackers and researchers who’d love to make a million dollars. Photo: Bloomberg

Zerodium, a company that pays hackers for software and device vulnerabilities and on-sells them to customers including government security agencies, says it has a total of $US3 million ($4.2m) on offer for any three hackers that can provide a full “jailbreak” of Apple’s brand new iOS 9 and iPhone 6s.


A jailbreak is type of attack that allows a person (including hackers) to take total control over a device, for example letting them install apps and services not sanctioned by Apple.

This won’t be an easy payday for any aspiring millionaire hackers though. A list of conditions on the Zerodium website states the exploits must be comprised of only zero-days (i.e. previously unknown vulnerabilities) and has to be as simple for the end user as visiting a web page on Safari or Google Chrome or reading a text message.

Furthermore, the attack must be persistent (i.e. its effects must remain even after a restart) and it must work on the most recent generations of Apple devices (including iPhone 6s), running the latest iOS 9.

Zerodium says the unprecedented reward ($1 million for each hacker) on offer is due to the hugely increased security in Apple’s latest software and hardware, with chief executive officer Chaouki Bekarr telling Forbes that “iOS is the most secure mobile OS as of today”.

The zero-day exploit market is big business. Many companies operate their own reward programs to compel researchers to turn in bugs and vulnerabilities so issues can be fixed, although some prefer to disclose flaws publicly so users can be warned. The biggest money is often offered by exploit merchants who keep the techniques and code to themselves and deploy them for paying customers.

Zerodium is a new program from French company Vupen, designed to focus specifically on zero-days for the most prominent operating systems and devices.

Apple has yet to respond publicly but has been known to hire those who hack their software. In 2011, for instance, Apple hired Nicholas Allegra, aka “comex”, the notorious hacker behind JailbreakMe which makes removing the restrictions on the company’s iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices as simple as clicking a link.


Henry Sapiecha

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