Apple is suing a security startup called Corellium for the “illegal replication” of the iPhone operating system, iOS. Corellium, a husband-and-wife-founded company, offers “virtualized” versions of iOS, which is very valuable for security researchers as they can pause the operating system and analyze what’s happening at the code level. By doing so, it should help these security researchers discover vulnerabilities faster and with greater ease than having to work with a commercial iPhone.
However, Apple deemed the product as an infringement of its copyrighted smartphone and iPad operating system. “Corellium’s conduct plainly infringes Apple’s copyrights,” the company wrote in its complaint. “Corellium has simply copied everything: the code, the graphical user interface, the icons—all of it, in exacting detail. … For a million dollars a year, Corellium will even deliver a ‘private’ installation of its product to any buyer. There is no basis for Corellium to be selling a product that allows the creation of avowedly perfect replicas of Apple’s devices to anyone willing to pay.”
Apple said it doesn’t want to harm honest security research but to put an end to what it claims was Corellium’s illegal commercialization of iOS. The iPhone maker is seeking an injunction on Corellium to prevent the security startup from selling or marketing its tools. In addition, Apple is requesting Corellium to pay for any lost profits that may have been caused from the startup’s business.
The legal complaint follows after Apple’s announcement of the next release of iPhones, which would make it easier for hackers to tinker with iOS. The new iPhone models will have further access to the iOS code compared to prior iPhones, though it’s still unclear just how much they would compare to Corellium’s iOS versions.
Apple’s program could easily become a rival to Corellium and is expected to launch in the new year. Unlike its bug bounty program, this program will only be available to those that the company deems worthy.