Security Bite: Apple updates Platform Security guide with first-ever details on App Store security, BlastDoor, more

Apple this week updated its Platform Security guide, which contains in-depth technical information on security features implemented in its products. First released in 2015, the latest update adds six new topics, including first-ever details on BlastDoor 0-click protection and App Store security.

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Apple has long touted its hardware, software, and services are designed in tandem for maximum security and transparency. Of course, nothing is one hundred percent secure, as we witnessed with the discovery of the Operation Triangulation 0-click iMessage spyware campaign in 2023.

In the midst of the exploit, Samuel Groß, a security researcher working with Google’s Project Zero discovered a hidden iMessage security system in iOS 14.3 called BlastDoor while reverse engineering an iPhone XS. He found that the feature acted as a sandbox that securely processed incoming messages in an isolated environment, checking for malware before presenting them to the user.

This was presumably Apple’s first response to the increase in iMessage exploit activity; years before the release of Lockdown Mode, which was primarily designed for high-profile individuals. However, BlastDoor went without documentation or acknowledgment for years…until this week.

Apple also shared some information about the security measures in place in the App Store. This comes as alternative app stores, which are considered less safe by Apple, are now permitted on iPhones in the EU. It seems that Apple wants to reassure users about the safety and reliability of the App Store. However, I think the reality may be slightly grimmer than what Apple portrays. There has been a growing concern about the App Store’s approval process as it continues to allow privacy-invasive and sometimes malicious apps, such as crypto wallets or GPT clones.

2024 Apple Platform Security guide

The latest Apple Platform Security guide update details some of the changes the company has implemented in the past two years.

“This documentation provides details about how security technology and features are implemented within Apple platforms. It also helps organizations combine Apple platform security technology and features with their own policies and procedures to meet their specific security needs,” says Apple.

New topics added to the Apple Platform Security guide this year:

Topics that have been updated:

  • Introduction to Apple platform security
  • Apple SoC security
  • Secure Enclave
  • Face ID, Touch ID, passcodes, and passwords
  • Facial matching security
  • Uses for Face ID and Touch ID
  • Express Cards with power reserve
  • Operating system integrity
  • Activating data connections securely
  • Verifying accessories for iPhone and iPad
  • System security for watchOS
  • Passcodes and passwords
  • Data Protection overview
  • Keybags for Data Protection
  • Protecting keys in alternate boot modes
  • Protecting user data in the face of attack
  • Managing FileVault in macOS
  • Intro to app security for iOS and iPadOS
  • Gatekeeper and runtime protection in macOS
  • Managed Apple ID security
  • iCloud encryption
  • Account recovery contact security
  • Legacy Contact security
  • iCloud Keychain security overview
  • Secure keychain syncing
  • Escrow security for iCloud Keychain
  • Card provisioning security overview
  • Adding credit or debit cards to Apple Pay
  • Paying with cards using Apple Pay
  • Apple Card security
  • Tap to Pay on iPhone security
  • Access using Apple Wallet
  • Access key types
  • IDs in Apple Wallet
  • Security of IDs in Apple Wallet
  • Developer kit security overview
  • HomeKit communication security
  • Mobile device management security overview
  • Configuration enforcement

You can download the full 265-page 2024 Apple Security Platforms guide here.

About Security Bite: Security Bite is a weekly security-focused column on 9to5Mac. Every week, Arin Waichulis delivers insights on data privacy, uncovers vulnerabilities, and sheds light on emerging threats within Apple’s vast ecosystem of over 2 billion active devices. Stay secure, stay safe.

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