More than two years ago a team of security researcher Matthew Solnica (Mathew Solnik) succeeded for the first time in history to access and explore the Secure Enclave Processor (SEP), which is a key element of the A7 chip and newer from Apple. The SEP is responsible for the cryptographic protection for the iPhone and hacking could potentially help to hack the device itself.

Solnick never told how his team was able to penetrate the “Holy of holies” of the iPhone, leaving Apple community in disbelief. However, the Motherboard journalists conducted their own investigation and found out how the researchers were able to access the protected components and processes on the iPhone.

For retrieval and analysis software SEP team Solnica used iPhone prototypes meant for internal testing at Apple. These prototypes are phones that do not pass the production process is fully or returned to the development stage. They are a real gold mine for jailbreakers and researchers around the world use to search for vulnerabilities. Many security features are in prototype mode, so hack, much simpler than fully ready to sell the iPhone.

One of the reasons the iPhone is so difficult to crack, is the inability to study the SEP and other key components of the device. The fact that on a normal iPhone operating system SEP encrypted and, in theory, can not be recovered or hacked. However, the prototype device hack SEP is quite real.

The information resulting from the research prototype, can be used for hacking a ready iPhone. Researchers can get root access and thereby explore the critical components and processes.

The idea is that iPhone prototypes should never leave Apple. However, they still find themselves on the gray market, where Resellers and smugglers sell them for thousands of dollars to hackers and security researchers. According to Motherboard, these are the prototypes used by some reputable companies and researchers to search for vulnerabilities in iOS, which can then be used by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

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