Apple (AAPL 1.92%) made good on a long-standing promise on Wednesday to allow security researchers to probe the iPhone for security vulnerabilities. The company will provide modified iPhones specifically designed to allow hackers to search for flaws in the device's iOS mobile operating system.
The company announced the Apple Security Research Device Program, designed "to help improve security for all iOS users," while specifically attracting more security researchers to the iPhone. The program will provide a specially modified iPhone -- a Security Research Device -- that will give trusted hackers and security researcher's unprecedented access to the inner workings of the device.
Researchers have long contended that the lack of transparency regarding the inner workings of the iPhone have made it much more difficult for security experts to address flaws once they have been discovered.
At last's year's Black Hat security conference, Ivan Krstic, head of Apple's Security Engineering and Architecture, announced that the company would provide select security researchers with a special version of the iPhone in order to search for vulnerabilities. Apple has long used these specially modified iPhones internally, but this is the first time the company will make them available to outside security experts.
The program does come with strings, however. Researchers must apply for the program and Apple will release only a limited number of devices to a few authorized program participants. In order to be considered for the program, researchers must first agree to notify Apple first of any security issues discovered on the iOS and agree to a timetable to allow Apple to patch any holes hackers find before sharing the findings.