IOS Security 11 January 2018 I OS Guide
User Manual: Pdf
Open the PDF directly: View PDF .
Page Count: 82
2iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Page 4 Introduction
Page 5 System Security
Secure boot chain
System Software Authorization
Page 12 Encryption and Data Protection
Hardware security features
File Data Protection
Data Protection classes
Keychain Data Protection
Access to Safari saved passwords
Security Certifications and programs
Page 23 App Security
App code signing
Runtime process security
Data Protection in apps
Page 36 Network Security
Wi-Fi password sharing
Page 41 Apple Pay
Apple Pay components
How Apple Pay uses the Secure Element
How Apple Pay uses the NFC controller
Credit, debit, and prepaid card provisioning
3iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Transaction-specific dynamic security code
Contactless payments with Apple Pay
Paying with Apple Pay within apps
Paying with Apple Pay on the web or with Handoff
Apple Pay Cash
Suspending, removing, and erasing cards
Page 52 Internet Services
Safari Suggestions, Siri Suggestions in Search, Lookup, #images,
News App, and News Widget in Non-News Countries
Page 68 Device Controls
iOS pairing model
Mobile device management (MDM)
Apple School Manager
Page 75 Privacy Controls
Access to personal data
Page 77 Apple Security Bounty
Page 78 Conclusion
A commitment to security
Page 79 Glossary
Page 81 Document Revision History
4iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Apple designed the iOS platform with security at its core. When we set
out to create the best possible mobile platform, we drew from decades
of experience to build an entirely new architecture. We thought about
the security hazards of the desktop environment, and established a new
approach to security in the design of iOS. We developed and incorporated
innovative features that tighten mobile security and protect the entire
system by default. As a result, iOS is a major leap forward in security for
Every iOS device combines software, hardware, and services designed to
work together for maximum security and a transparent user experience.
iOS protects not only the device and its data at rest, but the entire
ecosystem, including everything users do locally, on networks, and with
key Internet services.
iOS and iOS devices provide advanced security features, and yet they’re
also easy to use. Many of these features are enabled by default, so IT
departments don’t need to perform extensive configurations. And key
security features like device encryption aren’t configurable, so users
can’t disable them by mistake. Other features, such as FaceID, enhance
the user experience by making it simpler and more intuitive to secure
This document provides details about how security technology and
features areimplemented within the iOS platform. It will also help
organizations combine iOSplatform security technology and features with
their own policies and procedures to meet their specific security needs.
This document is organized into the following topic areas:
• System security: The integrated and secure software and hardware that
are the platform for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
• Encryption and data protection: The architecture and design that
protects user data if the device is lost or stolen, or if an unauthorized
person attempts to use or modify it.
• App security: The systems that enable apps to run securely and without
compromising platform integrity.
• Network security: Industry-standard networking protocols that provide
secure authentication and encryption of data in transmission.
• Apple Pay: Apple’s implementation of secure payments.
• Internet services: Apple’s network-based infrastructure for messaging,
syncing, and backup.
• Device controls: Methods that allow management of iOS devices,
prevent unauthorized use, and enable remote wipe if a device is lost
• Privacy controls: Capabilities of iOS that can be used to control access
to Location Services and user data.
Apple Root Certiﬁcate
Security architecture diagram of iOS
provides a visual overview of the
different technologies discussed in
5iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
System security is designed so that both software and hardware are
secure across all core components of every iOS device. This includes
the boot-up process, software updates, and Secure Enclave. This
architecture is central to security in iOS, and never gets in the way
of device usability.
The tight integration of hardware, software, and services on iOS devices
ensures that each component of the system is trusted, and validates
the system as a whole. From initial boot-up to iOS software updates to
third-party apps, each step is analyzed and vetted to help ensure that
the hardware and software are performing optimally together and using
Secure boot chain
Each step of the startup process contains components that are
cryptographically signed by Apple to ensure integrity and that proceed
only after verifying the chain of trust. This includes the bootloaders,
kernel, kernel extensions, and baseband firmware. This secure boot chain
helps ensure that the lowest levels of software aren’t tampered with.
When an iOS device is turned on, its application processor immediately
executes code from read-only memory known as the Boot ROM. This
immutable code, known as the hardware root of trust, is laid down
during chip fabrication, and is implicitly trusted. The Boot ROM code
contains the Apple Root CA public key, which is used to verify that the
iBoot bootloader is signed by Apple before allowing it to load. This is the
first step in the chain of trust where each step ensures that the next is
signed by Apple. When the iBoot finishes its tasks, it verifies and runs
the iOS kernel. For devices with an S1, A9, or earlier A-series processor,
an additional Low-Level Bootloader (LLB) stage is loaded and verified by
theBoot ROM and in turn loads and verifies iBoot.
A failure of the Boot ROM to load LLB (on older devices) or iBoot (on
newer devices) results in the device entering DFU mode. In the case of
a failure in LLBor iBoot to load or verify the next step, startup is halted
and the device displays the connect to iTunes screen. This is known as
recovery mode. In either case, the device must be connected to iTunes
via USB and restored to factory default settings.
On devices with cellular access, the baseband subsystem also utilizes
its own similar process of secure booting with signed software and keys
verified by the baseband processor.
For devices with a Secure Enclave, the Secure Enclave coprocessor
also utilizes a secure boot process that ensures its separate software
is verified and signed by Apple. See the “Secure Enclave” section of
For more information on manually entering recovery mode, go to:
Entering Device Firmware
Upgrade (DFU) mode
Restoring a device after it enters
DFU mode returns it to a known
good state with the certainty that
only unmodified Apple-signed
code is present. DFU mode can
First connect the device to a
computer using a USB cable.
On iPhone X, iPhone 8, or
iPhone8Plus—Press and quickly
release the Volume Up button.
Press and quickly release the
Volume Down button. Then, press
and hold the side button until you
see the recovery mode screen.
On iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus—
Press and hold the side and
Volume Down buttons at the same
time. Keep holding them until you
see the recovery mode screen.
On iPhone 6s and earlier, iPad, or
iPod touch—Press and hold both
the Home and the Top (or side)
buttons at the same time. Keep
holding them until you see the
recovery mode screen.
Note: Nothing will be displayed
on thescreen when the device is
in DFU mode. If the Apple logo
appears, the side or Sleep/Wake
button was held down too long.
6iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
System Software Authorization
Apple regularly releases software updates to address emerging security
concerns and also provide new features; these updates are provided
for all supported devices simultaneously. Users receive iOS update
notifications onthedevice and through iTunes, and updates are delivered
wirelessly, encouraging rapid adoption of the latest security fixes.
The startup process described previously helps ensure that only Apple-
signed code can be installed on a device. To prevent devices from being
downgraded to older versions that lack the latest security updates, iOS
uses a process called System Software Authorization. If downgrades were
possible, an attacker who gains possession of a device could install an
older version of iOS and exploit a vulnerability that’s been fixed in the
On a device with Secure Enclave, the Secure Enclave coprocessor also
utilizesSystem Software Authorization to ensure the integrity of its
software andprevent downgrade installations. See the “Secure Enclave”
section of thispaper.
iOS software updates can be installed using iTunes or over the air (OTA)
on thedevice. With iTunes, a full copy of iOS is downloaded and
installed. OTA software updates download only the components required
to complete an update, improving network efficiency, rather than
downloading the entire OS. Additionally, software updates can be cached
on a Mac running macOS HighSierra with Content Caching turned on,
so that iOS devices don’t need toredownload the necessary update over
the Internet. They’ll still need to contact Apple servers to complete the
During an iOS upgrade, iTunes (or the device itself, in the case of OTA
software updates) connects to the Apple installation authorization server
and sends it a list of cryptographic measurements for each part of the
installation bundle to be installed (for example, iBoot, the kernel, and
OS image), a random anti-replay value (nonce), and the device’s unique
The authorization server checks the presented list of measurements
against versions for which installation is permitted and, if it finds a
match, adds the ECIDto the measurement and signs the result. The
server passes a complete setof signed data to the device as part of
the upgrade process. Adding the ECID “personalizes” the authorization
for the requesting device. By authorizing and signing only for known
measurements, the server ensures that the update takes place exactly
as provided by Apple.
The boot-time chain-of-trust evaluation verifies that the signature
comes from Apple and that the measurement of the item loaded from
disk, combined with the device’s ECID, matches what was covered by
These steps ensure that the authorization is for a specific device and that
an old iOS version from one device can’t be copied to another. The nonce
prevents an attacker from saving the server’s response and using it to
tamper with a device or otherwise alter the system software.
7iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
The Secure Enclave is a coprocessor fabricated in the Apple T1, AppleS2,
Apple S3, Apple A7, or later A-series processors. It uses encrypted
memory and includes a hardware random number generator. The Secure
Enclave provides all cryptographic operations for Data Protection key
management and maintains the integrity of Data Protection even if the
kernel has been compromised. Communication between the Secure
Enclave and the application processor isisolated to an interrupt-driven
mailbox and shared memory data buffers.
The Secure Enclave runs an Apple-customized version of the L4
microkernel. This microkernel is signed by Apple, verified as part of the
iOS secure boot chain, and updated through a personalized software
When the device starts up, an ephemeral key is created, entangled with
the device’s UID, and used to encrypt the Secure Enclave’s portion of the
device’s memory space. Except on the Apple A7, the Secure Enclave’s
memory is alsoauthenticated with the ephemeral key. On the Apple A11,
an integrity treeisused to prevent replay of security-critical Secure
Enclave memory, authenticated by the ephemeral key and nonces stored
in on-chip SRAM.
Additionally, data saved to the file system by the Secure Enclave is
encrypted with a key entangled with the UID and an antireplay counter.
Antireplay services on the Secure Enclave are used for revocation of
data over events that mark antireplay boundaries including, but not
limited to, the following:
• Passcode change
• TouchID or FaceID enable/disable
• Fingerprint add/delete
• Face ID reset
• Apple Pay card add/remove
• Erase All Content and Settings
The Secure Enclave is also responsible for processing fingerprint and
face data from the TouchID and Face ID sensors, determining if there’s
a match, and then enabling access or purchases on behalf of the user.
TouchID is the fingerprint sensing system that makes secure access
to iPhone and iPad faster and easier. This technology reads fingerprint
data from any angle and learns more about a user’s fingerprint over time,
with the sensor continuing to expand the fingerprint map as additional
overlapping nodes are identified with each use.
With a simple glance, FaceID securely unlocks iPhone X. It provides
intuitive and secure authentication enabled by the TrueDepth camera
system, which uses advanced technologies to accurately map the
geometry of your face. FaceID confirms attention by detecting the
direction of your gaze, then uses neural networks for matching and
anti-spoofing, so you can unlock your phone with a glance. FaceID
automatically adapts to changes in your appearance, andcarefully
safeguards the privacy and security of your biometric data.
8iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
TouchID, FaceID, and passcodes
To use TouchID or FaceID, you must set up your device so that a
passcode isrequired to unlock it. When TouchID or FaceID detects a
successful match, your device unlocks without asking for the device
passcode. This makes using alonger, more complex passcode far more
practical because you don’t need to enter it as frequently. TouchID
and FaceID don’t replace your passcode, but provide easy access to
your device within thoughtful boundaries and time constraints. This is
important because a strong passcode forms the foundation of your iOS
device’s cryptographic protection.
You can always use your passcode instead of TouchID or FaceID, and
it’s still required under the following circumstances:
• The device has just been turned on or restarted.
• The device hasn’t been unlocked for more than 48 hours.
• The passcode hasn’t been used to unlock the device in the last
156hours (six and a half days) and FaceID hasn’t unlocked the
devicein the last 4 hours.
• The device has received a remote lock command.
• After five unsuccessful attempts to match.
• After initiating power off/Emergency SOS.
When TouchID or FaceID is enabled, the device immediately locks when
the side button is pressed, and the device locks every time it goes to
sleep. TouchID and FaceID require a successful match—or optionally
the passcode—at every wake.
The probability that a random person in the population could look at your
iPhone X and unlock it using FaceID is approximately 1 in 1,000,000
(versus 1 in 50,000 for TouchID). For additional protection, both
TouchID and FaceID allow only five unsuccessful match attempts before
a passcode is required to obtain access to your device. With FaceID, the
probability of a false match is different for twins and siblings that look
like you as well as among children under the age of 13, because their
distinct facial features may not have fully developed. If you’re concerned
about this, Apple recommends using a passcode to authenticate.
The fingerprint sensor is active only when the capacitive steel ring that
surrounds the Home button detects the touch of a finger, which triggers
the advanced imaging array to scan the finger and send the scan to the
Secure Enclave. Communication between the processor and the TouchID
sensor takes place over a serial peripheral interface bus. The processor
forwards the data to the Secure Enclave but can’t read it. It’s encrypted
and authenticated with a session key that is negotiated using a shared
key provisioned for each Touch ID sensor and its corresponding Secure
Enclave at the factory. The shared key isstrong, random, and different
for every Touch ID sensor. The session key exchange uses AES key
wrapping with both sides providing a random key that establishes the
session key and uses AES-CCM transport encryption.
The raster scan is temporarily stored in encrypted memory within
the Secure Enclave while being vectorized for analysis, and then it’s
discarded. The analysis utilizes subdermal ridge flow angle mapping,
which is a lossy process that discards minutia data that would be
required to reconstruct the user’s actual fingerprint. The resulting map
9iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
of nodes is stored without any identity information in an encrypted format
that can only be read by the Secure Enclave, and is never sent to Apple
or backed up to iCloud or iTunes.
FaceID is designed to confirm user attention, provide robust
authentication with a low false match rate, and mitigate both digital and
The TrueDepth camera automatically looks for your face when you wake
iPhoneX by raising it or tapping the screen, as well as when iPhoneX
attempts to authenticate you to display an incoming notification or when a
supported apprequests FaceID authentication. When a face is detected,
FaceID confirms attention and intent to unlock by detecting that your
eyes are open and directed at your device; for accessibility, this is
disabled when VoiceOver is activated and, if required, can be disabled
Once it confirms the presence of an attentive face, the TrueDepth
camera projects and reads over 30,000 infrared dots to form a depth map
of the face, along with a 2D infrared image. This data is used to create a
sequence of 2Dimages and depth maps, which are digitally signed and
sent to the Secure Enclave. To counter both digital and physical spoofs,
the TrueDepth camera randomizes the sequence of 2D images and depth
map captures, and projects adevice-specific random pattern. A portion
of the A11 Bionic chip’s neural engine—protected within the Secure
Enclave—transforms this data into a mathematical representation and
compares that representation to the enrolled facial data. This enrolled
facial data is itself a mathematical representation of your face captured
across a variety of poses.
Facial matching is performed within the Secure Enclave using neural
networks trained specifically for that purpose. We developed the facial
matching neural networks using over a billion images, including IR and
depth images collected instudies conducted with the participants’
informed consent. Apple worked with participants from around the world
to include a representative group of people accounting for gender, age,
ethnicity, and other factors. The studies were augmented as needed to
provide a high degree of accuracy for a diverse range of users. FaceID is
designed to work with hats, scarves, glasses, contact lenses, and many
sunglasses. Furthermore, it’s designed to work indoors, outdoors, and
even in total darkness. An additional neural network that’s trained to spot
and resist spoofing defends against attempts to unlock your iPhone X
with photos or masks.
FaceID data, including mathematical representations of your face, is
encrypted and available only to the Secure Enclave. This data never
leaves the device. It isn’t sent to Apple, nor is it included in device
backups. The following FaceID data is saved, encrypted only for use
by the Secure Enclave, during normal operation:
• The mathematical representations of your face calculated during
• The mathematical representations of your face calculated during
some unlock attempts if FaceID deems them useful to augment
10iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Face images captured during normal operation aren’t saved, but are
instead immediately discarded once the mathematical representation
is calculated for either enrollment or comparison to the enrolled
How TouchID or FaceID unlocks an iOS device
With TouchID or FaceID disabled, when a device locks, the keys for the
highest class of Data Protection—which are held in the Secure Enclave—
are discarded. The files and Keychain items in that class are inaccessible
until you unlock the device by entering your passcode.
With TouchID or FaceID enabled, the keys aren’t discarded when the
device locks; instead, they’re wrapped with a key that’s given to the
TouchID or FaceID subsystem inside the Secure Enclave. When you
attempt to unlock thedevice, if the device detects a successful match,
it provides the key for unwrapping the Data Protection keys, and the
device is unlocked. This process provides additional protection by
requiring cooperation between the Data Protection and TouchID or
FaceID subsystems to unlock the device.
When the device restarts, the keys required for TouchID or FaceID to
unlock the device are lost; they’re discarded by the Secure Enclave after
any conditions are met that require passcode entry (for example, after
not being unlocked for 48 hours or after five failed match attempts).
To improve unlock performance and keep pace with the natural changes
of yourface and look, FaceID augments its stored mathematical
representation over time. Upon successful unlock, FaceID may use the
newly calculated mathematical representation—if its quality is sufficient—
for a finite number of additional unlocks before that data is discarded.
Conversely, if FaceID fails to recognize you, but the match quality is
higher than a certain threshold and you immediately follow the failure by
entering your passcode, FaceID takes another capture and augments
its enrolled FaceID data with the newly calculated mathematical
representation. This new FaceID data is discarded if you stop matching
against it and after a finite number of unlocks. These augmentation
processes allow FaceID to keep up with dramatic changes in your facial
hair or makeup use, while minimizing false acceptance.
TouchID, FaceID, and Apple Pay
You can also use TouchID and FaceID with Apple Pay to make easy and
secure purchases in stores, apps, and on the web. For more information
on TouchID and Apple Pay, see the Apple Pay section of this paper.
To authorize an in-store payment with FaceID, you must first confirm
intent to pay by double-clicking the side button. You then authenticate
using FaceID before placing your iPhone X near the contactless payment
reader. If you’d like to select a different Apple Pay payment method after
FaceID authentication, you’ll need to reauthenticate, but you won’t have
to double-click the side button again.
To make a payment within apps and on the web, you confirm intent to
pay by double-clicking the side button, then authenticate using FaceID
to authorize the payment. If your Apple Pay transaction isn’t completed
within 30 seconds ofdouble-clicking the side button, you’ll have to
reconfirm intent to pay by double-clicking again.
11iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
FaceID data doesn’t leave your device, and is never backed up to
iCloud or anywhere else. Only in the case that you wish to provide
FaceID diagnostic data to AppleCare for support will this information be
transferred from your device. Enabling FaceID Diagnostics requires a
digitally signed authorization from Apple that’s similar to the one used
in the software update personalization process. After authorization,
you’ll be able to activate FaceID Diagnostics and begin the setup
process from within the Settings app of your iPhone X.
As part of setting up FaceID Diagnostics, your existing FaceID
enrollment will be deleted and you’ll be asked to re-enroll in FaceID.
Your iPhone X will begin recording FaceID images captured during
authentication attempts for the next 10 days; iPhone X will automatically
stop saving images thereafter. FaceID Diagnostics doesn’t automatically
send data to Apple. You can review and approve FaceID Diagnostics
data—including enrollment and unlock images (both failed and successful)
that are gathered while in diagnostics mode—before it’s sent to Apple.
FaceID Diagnostics will upload only the FaceID Diagnostics images
you have approved, the data is encrypted before it’s uploaded, and is
immediately deleted from your iPhone X after the upload completes.
Images you reject are immediately deleted.
If you don’t conclude the FaceID Diagnostics session by reviewing
images and uploading any approved images, FaceID Diagnostics will
automatically end after 40 days, and all diagnostic images will be deleted
from your iPhone X. You can also disable FaceID Diagnostics at any time.
All local images are immediately deleted if you do so, and no FaceID data
is shared with Apple in these cases.
Other uses for TouchID and FaceID
Third-party apps can use system-provided APIs to ask the user to
authenticate using TouchID or FaceID or a passcode, and apps that
support TouchID automatically support FaceID without any changes.
When using TouchID or FaceID, the app is notified only as to whether
the authentication was successful; itcan’t access TouchID, FaceID, or
the data associated with the enrolled user. Keychain items can also be
protected with TouchID or FaceID, to be released by the Secure Enclave
only by a successful match or the device passcode. App developers have
APIs to verify that a passcode has been set by the user, before requiring
TouchID or FaceID or a passcode to unlock Keychain items. App
developers can do the following:
• Require that authentication API operations don’t fall back to an app
password or the device passcode. They can query whether a user is
enrolled, allowing TouchID or FaceID to be used as a second factor
in security-sensitive apps.
• Generate and use ECC keys inside Secure Enclave that can be
protected by TouchID or FaceID. Operations with these keys are always
performed inside the Secure Enclave once it authorizes their use.
You can also configure TouchID or FaceID to approve purchases from
the iTunes Store, the App Store, and the iBooks Store, so you don’t
have to enter an Apple ID password. With iOS 11 or later, TouchID– and
FaceID–protected Secure Enclave ECC keys are used to authorize a
purchase by signing the storerequest.
12iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
The secure boot chain, code signing, and runtime process security all
help to ensure that only trusted code and apps can run on a device.
iOS has additional encryption and data protection features to safeguard
user data, even in cases where other parts of the security infrastructure
have been compromised (for example, on a device with unauthorized
modifications). This provides important benefits for both users and IT
administrators, protecting personal and corporate information at all times
and providing methods for instant and complete remote wipe in the case
of device theft orloss.
Hardware security features
On mobile devices, speed and power efficiency are critical. Cryptographic
operations are complex and can introduce performance or battery life
problems if not designed and implemented with these priorities in mind.
Every iOS device has a dedicated AES-256 crypto engine built into the
DMApath between the flash storage and main system memory, making
file encryption highly efficient. On A9 or later A-series processors, the
flash storage subsystem is on an isolated bus that is only granted access
to memorycontaining user data via the DMA crypto engine.
The device’s unique ID (UID) and a device group ID (GID) are AES
256-bit keys fused (UID) or compiled (GID) into the application processor
and Secure Enclave during manufacturing. No software or firmware
can read them directly; they can see only the results of encryption or
decryption operations performed by dedicated AES engines implemented
in silicon using the UID or GID as a key. Additionally, the Secure Enclave’s
UID and GID can only be used by the AES engine dedicated to the Secure
Enclave. The UIDs and GIDs are also not available via JTAG or other
On T1, S2, S3, and A9 or later A-series processors, each Secure Enclave
generates its own UID (Unique ID). Because the UID is unique to each
device, and because it is generated wholly within the Secure Enclave
instead of in a manufacturing system outside of the device, the UID
is not available for access or storage by Apple or any of its suppliers.
Software running on the Secure Enclave takes advantage of the UID to
protect device-specific secrets.
The UID allows data to be cryptographically tied to a particular device.
For example, the key hierarchy protecting the file system includes the
UID, so if thememory chips are physically moved from one device to
another, the files areinaccessible. The UID isn’t related to any other
identifier on the device.
The GID is common to all processors in a class of devices (for example,
all devices using the Apple A8 processor).
Apart from the UID and GID, all other cryptographic keys are created by
the system’s random number generator (RNG) using an algorithm based
on CTR_DRBG. System entropy is generated from timing variations during
Encryption and Data Protection
Erase All Content and Settings
The “Erase all content and settings”
option in Settings obliterates all
the keys in Effaceable Storage,
rendering all user data on the device
Therefore, it’s an ideal way to be
sure all personal information is
removed from a device before giving
it to somebody else or returning it
Important: Don’t use the “Erase all
content and settings” option until
device has been backed up, as there
isno way to recover the erased data.
13iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
boot, and additionally from interrupt timing once the device has booted.
Keys generated inside the Secure Enclave use its true hardware random
number generator based on multiple ring oscillators post processed
Securely erasing saved keys is just as important as generating them.
It’s especially challenging to do so on flash storage, for example,
wear-leveling might mean multiple copies of data need to be erased.
To address this issue,iOS devices include a feature dedicated to secure
data erasure called Effaceable Storage. This feature accesses the
underlying storage technology (for example, NAND) to directly address
and erase a small number of blocks atavery low level.
File Data Protection
In addition to the hardware encryption features built into iOS devices,
Apple uses a technology called Data Protection to further protect data
stored in flash memory on the device. Data Protection allows the device
to respond to common events such as incoming phone calls, but also
enables a high level of encryption for user data. Key system apps, such as
Messages, Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Photos, and Health data values use
Data Protection by default, and third-party apps installed on iOS 7 or later
receive this protection automatically.
Data Protection is implemented by constructing and managing a hierarchy
of keys, and builds on the hardware encryption technologies built into
each iOS device. Data Protection is controlled on a per-file basis by
assigning each file toa class; accessibility is determined by whether the
class keys have been unlocked. With the advent of the Apple File System
(APFS), the file system is now able to further sub-divide the keys into a
per-extent basis (portions of a filecan have different keys).
Every time a file on the data partition is created, Data Protection creates
a new 256-bit key (the “per-file” key) and gives it to the hardware AES
engine, which uses the key to encrypt the file as it is written to flash
memory using AES CBC mode. (On devices with an A8 or later processor,
AES-XTS is used.) The initialization vector (IV) is calculated with the block
offset into the file, encrypted with the SHA-1 hash of the per-file key.
The per-file (or per-extent) key is wrapped with one of several class
keys, depending on the circumstances under which the file should be
accessible. Likeall other wrappings, this is performed using NIST AES
key wrapping, per RFC 3394. The wrapped per-file key is stored in the
Devices running with the Apple File System format may support cloning
of files (zero-cost copies using copy-on-write technology). If a file is
cloned, each halfof the clone gets a new key to accept incoming writes
so that new data is written to the media with a new key. Over time, the file
may become composed of various extents (or fragments), each mapping
to different keys. However, all of the extents that comprise a file will be
guarded by the same class key.
14iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
When a file is opened, its metadata is decrypted with the file system
key, revealing the wrapped per-file key and a notation on which class
protects it. Theper-file (or per-extent) key isunwrapped with the class
key, then supplied to the hardware AES engine, which decrypts the file
as it is read from flash memory. All wrapped file key handling occurs
in the Secure Enclave; the file keyis never directly exposed to the
application processor. At boot, the Secure Enclave negotiates an
ephemeral key with the AES engine. When the Secure Enclave unwraps
a file’s keys, they are rewrapped with the ephemeral key and sent back
to the application processor.
The metadata of all files in the file system is encrypted with a random
key, which is created when iOS is first installed or when the device is
wiped by a user. On devices that support the Apple File System, the
file system metadata key is wrapped by the Secure Enclave UID key for
long-term storage. Just like per-file or per-extent keys, the metadata
key is never directly exposed to the application processor; the Secure
Enclave provides an ephemeral, per-boot version instead. When stored,
the encrypted file system key is additionally wrapped by an “effaceable
key” stored in Effaceable Storage. This key does not provide additional
confidentiality of data. Instead, it’s designed to be quickly erased on
demand (by the user with the “Erase All Content and Settings” option, or
by a user or administrator issuing a remote wipe command from an MDM
solution, Exchange ActiveSync, or iCloud). Erasing the key in this manner
renders all files cryptographically inaccessible.
File System Key
The content of a file may be encrypted with one or more per-file (or
per-extent) keys that are wrapped with a class key and stored in a file’s
metadata, which in turn is encrypted with the file system key. The class
key is protected with the hardware UID and, for some classes, the user’s
passcode. This hierarchy provides both flexibility and performance. For
example, changing a file’s class only requires rewrapping its per-file key,
and a change of passcode just rewraps the class key.
15iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
By setting up a device passcode, the user automatically enables Data
Protection. iOS supports six-digit, four-digit, and arbitrary-length
alphanumeric passcodes. In addition to unlocking the device, a passcode
provides entropy for certain encryption keys. This means an attacker in
possession of a device can’t get access to data in specific protection
classes without the passcode.
The passcode is entangled with the device’s UID, so brute-force attempts
must be performed on the device under attack. A large iteration count
is used to make each attempt slower. The iteration count is calibrated
so that one attempt takes approximately 80 milliseconds. This means it
would take more than five and a half years to try all combinations of a
six-character alphanumeric passcode with lowercase letters and numbers.
The stronger the user passcode is, the stronger the encryption key
becomes. TouchID and FaceID can be used to enhance this equation
by enabling theuser to establish a much stronger passcode than would
otherwise be practical. This increases the effective amount of entropy
protecting the encryption keys used for Data Protection, without
adversely affecting the user experience of unlocking an iOS device
multiple times throughout the day.
To further discourage brute-force passcode attacks, there are escalating
time delays after the entry of an invalid passcode at the Lock screen. If
Settings > TouchID & Passcode > Erase Data is turned on, the device will
automatically wipe after 10 consecutive incorrect attempts to enter the
passcode. This setting is also available as an administrative policy through
MDM and Exchange ActiveSync, and can be set to a lower threshold.
On devices with Secure Enclave, the delays are enforced by the Secure
Enclave coprocessor. If the device is restarted during a timed delay, the
delay is still enforced, with the timer starting over for the current period.
Data Protection classes
When a new file is created on an iOS device, it’s assigned a class by the
app that creates it. Each class uses different policies to determine when
the data isaccessible. The basic classes and policies are described in
the following sections.
(NSFileProtectionComplete): The class key is protected with a key
derived from the user passcode and the device UID. Shortly after the
user locks a device (10 seconds, if the Require Password setting is
Immediately), the decrypted class key is discarded, rendering all data
in this class inaccessible until the user enters the passcode again or
unlocks the device using TouchID or FaceID.
If a long password that contains
only numbers is entered, a
numeric keypad is displayed at
the Lock screen instead of the
full keyboard. A longer numeric
passcode may be easier to enter
than a shorter alphanumeric
passcode, while providing similar
Delays between passcode
Attempts Delay Enforced
5 1 minute
6 5 minutes
7–8 15 minutes
9 1 hour
16iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Protected Unless Open
(NSFileProtectionCompleteUnlessOpen): Some files may need to
be written while the device is locked. A good example of this is a mail
attachment downloading in the background. This behavior is achieved by
using asymmetric elliptic curve cryptography (ECDH over Curve25519).
The usual per-file key is protected by akey derived using One-Pass
Diffie-Hellman Key Agreement as described in NIST SP 800-56A.
The ephemeral public key for the agreement is stored alongside the wrapped
per-file key. The KDF is Concatenation Key Derivation Function (Approved
Alternative 1) as described in 5.8.1 of NIST SP 800-56A. AlgorithmID is
omitted. PartyUInfo and PartyVInfo are the ephemeral and static public keys,
respectively. SHA-256 is used as the hashing function. As soon as the file
is closed, the per-file key is wiped from memory. To open the file again, the
shared secret is re-created using the Protected Unless Open class’s private
key and the file’s ephemeral public key, which are used to unwrap the per-file
key that is then used to decrypt the file.
Protected Until First User Authentication
Thisclass behaves in the same way as Complete Protection, except that the
decrypted class key isn’t removed from memory when the device is locked.
The protection in this class has similar properties to desktop full-volume
encryption, and protects data from attacks that involve a reboot. This is the
default class for all third-party app data not otherwise assigned to a Data
(NSFileProtectionNone): This class key is protected only with the UID,
andis kept in Effaceable Storage. Since all the keys needed to decrypt files
in this class are stored on the device, the encryption only affords the benefit
of fast remote wipe. If a file isn’t assigned a Data Protection class, it is still
stored inencrypted form (as is all data on an iOS device).
Data protection class key
Class A Complete Protection (NSFileProtectionComplete)
Class B Protected Unless Open (NSFileProtectionCompleteUnlessOpen)
Class C Protected Until First User Authentication (NSFileProtectionCompleteUntilFirstUserAuthentication)
Class D No Protection (NSFileProtectionNone)
17iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Keychain Data Protection
Many apps need to handle passwords and other short but sensitive bits of
data, such as keys and login tokens. The iOS Keychain provides a secure
way to store these items.
The Keychain is implemented as a SQLite database stored on the file
system. There is only one database and the securityd daemon determines
which Keychain items each process or apps can access. Keychain access
APIs result in calls to the daemon, which queries the app’s “Keychain-
access-groups,” “application-identifier,” and “application-group”
entitlements. Rather than limiting access to a single process, access
groups allow Keychain items to be shared between apps.
Keychain items can only be shared between apps from the same
developer. Thisis managed by requiring third-party apps to use access
groups with a prefix allocated to them through the Apple Developer
Program via application groups. The prefix requirementandapplication
group uniquenessareenforced throughcode signing, Provisioning Profiles,
and the Apple Developer Program.
Keychain data is protected using a class structure similar to the one used
in file Data Protection. These classes have behaviors equivalent to file
Data Protection classes, but use distinct keys and are part of APIs that are
Availability File Data Protection Keychain Data Protection
unlocked NSFileProtectionComplete kSecAttrAccessibleWhenUnlocked
While locked NSFileProtectionCompleteUnlessOpen N/A
unlock NSFileProtectionCompleteUntilFirstUserAuthentication kSecAttrAccessibleAfterFirstUnlock
Always NSFileProtectionNone kSecAttrAccessibleAlways
Apps that utilize background refresh services can use
kSecAttrAccessibleAfterFirstUnlock for Keychain items that need to
be accessed during background updates.
The class kSecAttrAccessibleWhenPasscodeSetThisDeviceOnly
behaves the same as kSecAttrAccessibleWhenUnlocked; however, it
is only available when the device is configured with a passcode. This
class exists only in the system keybag; they don’t sync to iCloud Keychain,
aren’t backed up, and aren’t included in escrow keybags. If the passcode
is removed or reset, the items are rendered useless by discarding the
Other Keychain classes have a “This device only” counterpart, which is
always protected with the UID when being copied from the device during
a backup, rendering it useless if restored to a different device.
Apple has carefully balanced security and usability by choosing Keychain
classes that depend on the type of information being secured and
when it’s needed by iOS. For example, a VPN certificate must always be
available so the device keeps a continuous connection, but it’s classified
as “non-migratory,” so it can’t be moved to another device.
Components of a Keychain item
Along with the access group, each
Keychain item contains administrative
metadata (such as “created” and
It also contains SHA-1 hashes of the
attributes used to query for the item
(such as the account and server
name) to allow lookup without
decrypting each item. And finally, it
contains the encryption data, which
includes the following:
• Version number
• Access control list (ACL) data
• Value indicating which protection
class the item is in
• Per-item key wrapped with the
protection class key
• Dictionary of attributes describing
the item (as passed to SecItemAdd),
encoded as a binary plist and
encrypted with the per-item key
The encryption is AES 128 in GCM
(Galois/Counter Mode); the access
group is included in the attributes and
protected by the GMAC tag calculated
18iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
For Keychain items created by iOS, the following class protections are
Wi-Fi passwords After first unlock
Mail accounts After first unlock
Exchange accounts After first unlock
VPN passwords After first unlock
LDAP, CalDAV, CardDAV After first unlock
Social network account tokens After first unlock
Handoff advertisement encryption keys After first unlock
iCloud token After first unlock
Home sharing password When unlocked
Find My iPhone token Always
iTunes backup When unlocked, non-migratory
Safari passwords When unlocked
Safari bookmarks When unlocked
VPN certificates Always, non-migratory
Bluetooth® keys Always, non-migratory
Apple Push Notification service token Always, non-migratory
iCloud certificates and private key Always, non-migratory
iMessage keys Always, non-migratory
Certificates and private keys installed by a
configuration profile Always, non-migratory
SIM PIN Always, non-migratory
Keychain access control
Keychains can use access control lists (ACLs) to set policies for
accessibility and authentication requirements. Items can establish
conditions that require user presence by specifying that they can’t be
accessed unless authenticated using TouchID, FaceID, or by entering the
device’s passcode. Access to items can also be limited by specifying that
TouchID or FaceID enrollment hasn’t changed since the item was added.
This limitation helps prevent an attacker from adding their own fingerprint
in order to access a Keychain item. ACLs are evaluated inside the Secure
Enclave and are released to the kernel only if their specified constraints
19iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Access to Safari saved passwords
iOS apps can interact with Keychain items saved by Safari for Password
AutoFill using thefollowing two APIs:
Access is granted only if both the app developer and website
administrator have given their approval, and the user has given consent.
App developers express their intent to access Safari saved passwords
by including an entitlement in their app. The entitlement lists the fully
qualified domain names of associated websites. The websites must place
a file on their server listing the uniqueappidentifiers of apps they’ve
approved. When an app with the com.apple.developer.associated-
domains entitlement is installed, iOS makes aTLS request to each listed
website, requesting the file/apple-app-site-association. If the file lists the
app identifier of the app being installed, then iOS marks the website and
app as having a trusted relationship.Only with a trusted relationship will
calls to these two APIs result in a prompt to the user, who must agree
before any passwords are released to the app, or are updated or deleted.
iOS allows users to input saved user names and passwords into
credential-related fields in apps by tapping a “key” affordance in the
iOS keyboard’s QuickType bar. It leverage the same apple-app-site-
association mechanism to strongly associate apps and websites. This
interface exposes no credential information to the app until a user
consents to releasing a credential to the app. When iOS has marked
awebsite and app as having a trusted relationship, the QuickType bar
will also directly suggest credentials to fill into the app. This allows users
to choose to disclose Safari-saved credentials to apps with the same
security story, but without apps having to adopt an API.
The keys for both file and Keychain Data Protection classes are collected
and managed in keybags. iOS uses the following keybags: user, device,
backup, escrow, and iCloud Backup.
User keybag is where the wrapped class keys used in normal operation
of the device are stored. For example, when a passcode is entered, the
NSFileProtectionComplete key is loaded from the user keybag and
unwrapped. It is a binary plist stored in the No Protection class, whose
contents are encrypted with a key held in Effaceable Storage. In order
to give forward security to keybags, this key is wiped and regenerated
each time a user changes their passcode. The AppleKeyStore kernel
extension manages theuser keybag, and can be queried regarding a
device’s lock state. It reports thatthe device is unlocked only if all the
class keys in the user keybag are accessible,
and have been unwrapped successfully.
Device keybag is used to store the wrapped class keys used for
operations involving device-specific data. iOS devices configured for
shared use sometimes need access to credentials before any user has
logged in; therefore, a keybag that isn’t protected by the user’s passcode
is required. iOS doesn’t support cryptographic separation of per-user
file system content, which means the system will use class keys from the
device keybag to wrap per-file keys. The Keychain, however, uses class
keys from the user keybag to protect items in the user Keychain. On iOS
20iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
devices configured for use by a single user (the default configuration),
the device keybag and the user keybag are one and the same, and are
protected by the user’s passcode.
Backup keybag is created when an encrypted backup is made by iTunes
and stored on the computer to which the device is backed up. A new
keybag is created with a new set of keys, and the backed-up data is
re-encrypted to these new keys. As explained previously, non-migratory
Keychain items remain wrapped with the UID-derived key, allowing them
to be restored to the device they were originally backed up from, but
rendering them inaccessible on a different device.
The keybag is protected with the password set in iTunes, run through
10 million iterations of PBKDF2. Despite this large iteration count, there’s
no tie to a specific device, and therefore a brute-force attack parallelized
across many computers could theoretically be attempted on the backup
keybag. This threat can be mitigated with a sufficiently strong password.
If a user chooses not to encrypt an iTunes backup, the backup files aren’t
encrypted regardless of their Data Protection class, but the Keychain
remains protected with a UID-derived key. This is why Keychain items
migrate to a new device only if a backup password is set.
Escrow keybag is used for iTunes syncing and MDM. This keybag
allows iTunes to back up and sync without requiring the user to enter
a passcode, andit allows an MDM solution to remotely clear a user’s
passcode. It is stored on the computer that’s used to sync with iTunes,
or on the MDM solution that manages the device.
The escrow keybag improves the user experience during device
synchronization, whichpotentially requires access to all classes of data.
When apasscode-locked device is firstconnected to iTunes, the user
is prompted to enter a passcode. The device then creates an escrow
keybag containing the same class keys used on the device, protected by
a newly generated key. The escrow keybag and the key protecting it are
split between the device and the host or server, with the data stored on
the device in the Protected Until First User Authentication class. This is
why the device passcode must be entered before the user backs up with
iTunes for the first time after a reboot.
In the case of an OTA software update, the user is prompted for their
passcode when initiating the update. This is used to securely create a
one-time Unlock Token, which unlocks the user keybag after the update.
This token can’t be generated without entering the user’s passcode,
and any previously generated token is invalidated if the user’s passcode
One-time Unlock Tokens are either for attended or unattended
installation of a software update. They are encrypted with a key derived
from the current value of a monotonic counter in the Secure Enclave, the
UUID of the keybag, and the Secure Enclave’s UID.
Incrementing the one-time Unlock Token counter in the Secure Enclave
invalidates any existing token. The counter is incremented when a token
is used, after the first unlock of a restarted device, when a software
update is canceled (by the user or by the system), or when the policy
timer for a token has expired.
21iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
The one-time Unlock Token for attended software updates expires after
20minutes. This token is exported from the Secure Enclave and is written
to Effaceable Storage. A policy timer increments the counter if the device
hasn’t rebooted within 20 minutes.
For an unattended software update, which is set when the user chooses
“InstallLater” when notified of the update, the application processor can
keep the one-time Unlock Token alive in the Secure Enclave for up to
8hours. After that time, a policy timer increments the counter.
iCloud Backup keybag is similar to the backup keybag. All the class keys
in this keybag are asymmetric (using Curve25519, like the Protected
Unless Open Data Protection class), so iCloud backups can be performed
in the background. For all Data Protection classes except No Protection,
the encrypted data is read from the device and sent to iCloud. The
corresponding class keys are protected by iCloud keys. The Keychain
class keys are wrapped with a UID-derived key in the same way as an
unencrypted iTunes backup. An asymmetric keybag is also used for the
backup in the Keychain recovery aspect of iCloud Keychain.
Security Certifications and programs
Note: For the latest information oniOS Security Certifications,
validations, and guidance, go to:
ISO 27001 and 27018 certifications
Apple has received ISO 27001 and ISO 27018 certification for the
Information Security Management System for the infrastructure,
development, and operations supporting these products and services:
Apple School Manager, iCloud, iMessage, FaceTime, Managed Apple
IDs, and iTunes U, in accordance with the Statement of Applicabilityv2.1
dated July 11, 2017. Apple’s compliance with the ISO standard was
certified by the British Standards Institution. The BSI website has
certificates of compliance for ISO 27001 and ISO 27018. To view these
certificates, go to:
Cryptographic validation (FIPS 140-2)
The cryptographic modules in iOS have been repeatedly validated for
compliance with U.S. Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS)
140-2 Level 1 following each release since iOS 6. As with each major
release, Apple submits the modules to CMVP for re-validation when the
iOS operating system is released. This program validates the integrity
of cryptographic operations for Apple apps and third-party apps that
properly utilize iOS cryptographic services and approved algorithms.
22iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Common Criteria Certification (ISO 15408)
Since the release of iOS 9, Apple has achieved iOS certifications for each
major iOS release under the Common Criteria Certification program for
• Mobile Device Fundamental Protection Profile
• VPN IPSec Client Protection Profile
• Extended Package for Mobile Device Management Agents
• Extended Package for Wireless LAN Clients
iOS 11 is expected to include additional certifications for the following:
• Application Software Protection Profile
• Extended Package for Email Clients
• Extended Package for Web Browsers
Apple plans to do so with each successive major release of iOS. Apple
has takenan active role within the International Technical Community
(ITC) in developing currently unavailable Collaborative Protection Profiles
(cPPs) focused on evaluating key mobile security technology. Apple
continues to evaluate and pursue certifications against new and updated
versions of the cPPs available today.
Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC)
Where applicable, Apple has also submitted the iOS platform and various
services for inclusion in the Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC)
Program Components List. As Apple platforms and services undergo
Common Criteria Certifications, they will be submitted for inclusion under
CSfC Program Components List as well.
To view the most recently listed components, go to:
Security configuration guides
Apple has collaborated with governments worldwide to develop guides
that giveinstructions and recommendations for maintaining a more
secure environment, also known as device hardening for high-risk
environments. Theseguides provide defined and vetted information
about how to configure and utilize built-in features in iOS for enhanced
23iOS Security—White Paper | January 2018
Apps are among the most critical elements of a modern mobile security
architecture. While apps provide amazing productivity benefits for users,
they also have the potential to negatively impact system security, stability,
and user data if they’re not handled properly.
Because of this, iOS provides layers of protection to ensure that apps
are signed and verified, and are sandboxed to protect user data. These
elements provide a stable, secure platform for apps, enabling thousands
of developers to deliver hundreds of thousands of apps on iOS without
impacting system integrity. And users can access these apps on their iOS
devices without undue fear of viruses, malware, or unauthorized attacks.
App code signing
Once the iOS kernel has started, it controls which user processes
and apps can be run. To ensure that all apps come from a known and
approved source and haven’t been tampered with, iOS requires that
all executable code be signed using an Apple-issued certificate. Apps
provided with the device, like Mail and Safari, are signed by Apple.
Third-party apps must also be validated and signed using an Apple-
issued certificate. Mandatory code signing extends the concept of chain
of trust from the OS to apps, and prevents third-party apps from loading
unsigned code resources or using self-modifying code.
In order to develop and install apps on iOS devices, developers must
register with Apple and join the Apple Developer Program. The real-
world identity of each developer, whether an individual or a business, is
verified by Apple before their certificate is issued. This certificate enables
developers to sign apps and submit them to the App Store for distribution.
As a result, all apps in the App Store have been submitted by an
identifiable person or organization, serving as a deterrent to the creation
of malicious apps. They have also been reviewed by Apple to ensure they
operate as described and don’t contain obvious bugs or other problems. In
addition to the technology already discussed, this curation process gives
customers confidence in the quality of the apps they buy.
iOS allows developers to embed frameworks inside of their apps, which
can beused by the app itself or by extensions embedded within the app.
To protect the system and other apps from loading third-party code
inside of their address space, the system will perform a code signature
validation of all the dynamic libraries that a process links against
at launch time. This verification is accomplished through the team
identifier (Team ID), which is extracted from anApple-issued certificate.
A team identifier is a 10-character alphanumeric string; for example,
1A2B3C4D5F. A program may link against any platform library that ships
with the system or any library with the same team identifier inits code
signature as the main executable. Since the executables shipping aspart
of the system don’t have a team identifier, they can only link against
libraries that ship with the system itself.
24iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Businesses also have the ability to write in-house apps for use within
their organization and distribute them to their employees. Businesses and
organizations can apply to the Apple Developer Enterprise Program (ADEP)
witha D-U-N-S number. Apple approves applicants after verifying their
identity and eligibility. Once an organization becomes a member of ADEP,
it can registerto obtain a Provisioning Profile that permits in-house apps
to run on devices it authorizes. Users must have the Provisioning Profile
installed to run the in-house apps. This ensures that only the organization’s
intended users areable toload the apps onto their iOS devices. Apps
installed via MDM are implicitly trusted because the relationship between
the organization and the device is already established. Otherwise, users
have to approve the app’s Provisioning Profile in Settings. Organizations
can restrict users from approving apps from unknown developers. On first
launch of any enterprise app, the device must receive positive confirmation
from Apple that the app is allowed to run.
Unlike other mobile platforms, iOS doesn’t allow users to install
potentially malicious unsigned apps from websites, or run untrusted
code. At runtime, codesignature checks of all executable memory pages
are made as they are loaded to ensure that an app hasn’t been modified
since it was installed or lastupdated.
Runtime process security
Once an app is verified to be from an approved source, iOS enforces
security measures designed to prevent it from compromising other apps
or the rest of the system.
All third-party apps are “sandboxed,” so they are restricted from
accessing files stored by other apps or from making changes to the
device. This prevents apps from gathering or modifying information
stored by other apps. Each app has a unique home directory for its files,
which is randomly assigned when the app is installed. If a third-party app
needs to access information other than its own, it does so only by using
services explicitly provided by iOS.
System files and resources are also shielded from the user’s apps. The
majority of iOS runs as the non-privileged user “mobile,” as do all third-
party apps. The entire OS partition is mounted as read-only. Unnecessary
tools, such as remote login services, aren’t included in the system
software, and APIs don’t allow apps to escalate their own privileges to
modify other apps or iOS itself.
Access by third-party apps to user information and features such
as iCloud andextensibility is controlled using declared entitlements.
Entitlements are key value pairs that are signed in to an app and
allow authentication beyond runtime factors, like UNIX userID. Since
entitlements are digitally signed, they can’t be changed. Entitlements
are used extensively by system apps and daemons to perform specific
privileged operations that would otherwise require the process to run
as root. This greatly reduces the potential for privilege escalation by a
compromised system app or daemon.
In addition, apps can only perform background processing through
system-provided APIs. This enables apps to continue to function without
degrading performance or dramatically impacting battery life.
25iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Address space layout randomization (ASLR) protects against the
exploitation ofmemory corruption bugs. Built-in apps use ASLR to
ensure that all memory regions are randomized upon launch. Randomly
arranging the memory addresses of executable code, system libraries,
and related programming constructs reduces the likelihood of many
sophisticated exploits. For example, a return-to-libc attack attempts to
trick a device into executing malicious code by manipulating memory
addresses of the stack and system libraries. Randomizing the placement
of these makes the attack far more difficult to execute, especially across
multiple devices. Xcode, the iOS development environment, automatically
compiles third-party programs with ASLR support turned on.
Further protection is provided by iOS using ARM’s Execute Never (XN)
feature, which marks memory pages as non-executable. Memory pages
marked as bothwritable and executable can be used only by apps under
tightly controlled conditions: The kernel checks for the presence of the
Apple-only dynamic code-signing entitlement. Even then, only a single
mmap call can be made to request an executable and writable page,
which is given a randomized address. Safari uses this functionality for
iOS allows apps to provide functionality to other apps by providing
extensions. Extensions are special-purpose signed executable binaries,
packaged within an app. The system automatically detects extensions
at install time and makes them available to other apps using a matching
A system area that supports extensions is called an extension point.
Each extension point provides APIs and enforces policies for that
area. The system determines which extensions are available based
on extension point–specific matching rules. The system automatically
launches extension processes as needed and manages their lifetime.
Entitlements can be used to restrict extension availability to particular
system apps. For example, a Today view widget appears only in
Notification Center, and a sharing extension is available only from the
Sharing pane. The extension points are Today widgets, Share, Custom
actions, Photo Editing, Document Provider, and Custom Keyboard.
Extensions run in their own address space. Communication between the
extension and theapp from which it was activateduses interprocess
communications mediated by the system framework. They don’t have
access toeach other’s files or memory spaces. Extensions are designed
to be isolated from each other, from their containing apps, and from
the apps that use them. They are sandboxed like any other third-party
app and have a container separate from the containing app’s container.
However, they share the same access to privacy controls as the container
app. So if a user grants Contacts access to an app, this grant will be
extended to the extensions that are embedded within the app, but not
to the extensions activated by the app.
Custom keyboards are a special type of extension since they’re enabled
by the user for the entire system. Once enabled, a keyboard extension
is used for any text field except the passcode input and any secure text
view. To restrict the transfer of user data, custom keyboards run by
default in a very restrictive sandbox that blocks access to the network,
to services that perform network operations on behalf of a process,
26iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
and to APIs that would allow the extension to exfiltrate typing data.
Developers of custom keyboards can request that their extension have
Open Access, which will let the system run the extension in the default
sandbox after getting consent from the user.
For devices enrolled in an MDM solution, document and keyboard
extensions obey Managed OpenIn rules. For example, the MDM solution
can prevent a user from exporting a document from a managed app to
anunmanaged Document Provider, or using an unmanaged keyboard
witha managed app. Additionally, app developers can prevent the use
ofthird-party keyboard extensions within their app.
Apps and extensions owned by a given developer account can share
content when configured to be part of an App Group. It is up to the
developer to create the appropriate groups on the Apple Developer Portal
and include the desired set of apps and extensions. Once configured to
be part of an App Group, apps have access to the following:
• A shared on-volume container for storage, which stays on the device as
long as at least one app from the group is installed
• Shared preferences
• Shared Keychain items
The Apple Developer Portal guarantees that App Group IDs are unique
across the app ecosystem.
Data Protection in apps
The iOS Software Development Kit (SDK) offers a full suite of APIs
that make it easy for third-party and in-house developers to adopt
Data Protection and help ensure the highest level of protection in their
apps. Data Protection is available for file and database APIs, including
NSFileManager, CoreData, NSData, and SQLite.
The Mail app database (including attachments), managed books,
Safari bookmarks, app launch images, and location data are also
stored encrypted with keys protected by the user’s passcode on
their device. Calendar (excluding attachments), Contacts, Reminders,
Notes, Messages, and Photos implement Protected Until First User
User-installed apps that don’t opt-in to a specific Data Protection class
receive Protected Until First User Authentication by default.
The Made for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (MFi) licensing program
provides vetted accessory manufacturers access to the iPod Accessories
Protocol (iAP) and the necessary supporting hardware components.
When an MFi accessory communicates with an iOS device using a
Lightning connector or via Bluetooth, the device asks the accessory to
prove it has been authorized by Apple by responding with an Apple-
provided certificate, which is verified by the device. The device then
sends a challenge, which the accessory must answer with a signed
27iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
response. This process is entirely handled by a custom integrated circuit
(IC) that Apple provides to approved accessory manufacturers and is
transparent to the accessory itself.
Accessories can request access to different transport methods and
functionality; for example, access to digital audio streams over the
Lightning cable, or location information provided over Bluetooth. An
authentication IC ensures that only approved accessories are granted
full access to the device. Ifan accessory doesn’t support authentication,
its access is limited to analog audio and a small subset of serial (UART)
audio playback controls.
AirPlay also utilizes the authentication IC to verify that receivers have been
approved by Apple. AirPlay audio and CarPlay video streamsutilize the
MFi-SAP (Secure Association Protocol), which encrypts communication
between the accessory and device using AES-128 in CTR mode. Ephemeral
keys are exchanged using ECDH key exchange (Curve25519) and signed
using the authentication IC’s 1024-bit RSA key as part of the Station-to-
HomeKit provides a home automation infrastructure that utilizes iCloud
and iOS security to protect and synchronize private data without
exposing it to Apple.
HomeKit identity and security are based on Ed25519 public-private
key pairs. An Ed25519 key pair is generated on the iOS device for each
user for HomeKit, which becomes their HomeKit identity. It is used to
authenticate communication between iOS devices, and between iOS
devices and accessories.
The keys are stored in Keychain and are included only in encrypted
Keychain backups. The keys are synchronized between devices using
Communication with HomeKit accessories
HomeKit accessories generate their own Ed25519 key pair for use in
communicating with iOS devices. If the accessory is restored to factory
settings, a new key pair is generated.
To establish a relationship between an iOS device and a HomeKit
accessory, keys are exchanged using Secure Remote Password
(3072-bit) protocol utilizing an eight-digit code provided by the
accessory’s manufacturer, entered on the iOS device by the user, and
then encrypted using ChaCha20-Poly1305 AEAD with HKDF-SHA-512
derived keys. The accessory’s MFi certification is also verified during
When the iOS device and the HomeKit accessory communicate during
use, each authenticates the other utilizing the keys exchanged in the
above process.Each session is established using the Station-to-Station
protocol and is encrypted with HKDF-SHA-512 derived keys based
on per-session Curve25519 keys. This applies to both IP-based and
Bluetooth Low Energy accessories.
28iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Local data storage
HomeKit stores data about the homes, accessories, scenes, and users
on a user’s iOS device. This stored data is encrypted using keys derived
from the user’s HomeKit identity keys, plus a random nonce. Additionally,
HomeKit data is stored using Data Protection class Protected Until
First User Authentication. HomeKit data is only backed up in encrypted
backups, so, for example, unencrypted iTunes backups don’t contain
Data synchronization between devices and users
HomeKit data can be synchronized between a user’s iOS devices using
iCloud and iCloud Keychain. The HomeKit data is encrypted during the
synchronization using keys derived from the user’s HomeKit identity
and random nonce. This data is handled as an opaque blob during
synchronization. The most recent blob is stored in iCloud to enable
synchronization, but it isn’t used for any otherpurposes. Because it is
encrypted using keys that are available only on theuser’s iOS devices,
its contents are inaccessible during transmission and iCloudstorage.
HomeKit data is also synchronized between multiple users of the same
home. This process uses authentication and encryption that is the same
as that used between an iOS device and a HomeKit accessory. The
authentication is based on Ed25519 public keys that are exchanged
between the devices when a user isadded to a home. After a new user
is added to a home, all further communication is authenticated and
encrypted using Station-to-Station protocol and per-session keys.
The user who initially created the home in HomeKit or another user with
editing permissions can add new users. The owner’s device configures
the accessories with the public key of the new user so that the accessory
can authenticate and accept commands from the new user. When a user
with editing permissions adds a new user, the process is delegated to a
home hub to complete the operation.
The process to provision Apple TV for use with HomeKit is performed
automatically when the user signs in to iCloud. The iCloud account
needs to havetwo-factor authentication enabled. Apple TV and the
owner’s device exchange temporary Ed25519 public keys overiCloud.
When the owner’s device and AppleTV are on the same local network,
the temporary keys are used to secure aconnection over the local
network using Station-to-Station protocol andper-session keys. This
process uses authentication and encryption that is thesame asthat
used between an iOS device and a HomeKit accessory. Over thissecure
local connection, the owner’s device transfers the user’s Ed25519
public-private keypairs to Apple TV. These keys are then used to secure
the communication between Apple TV and theHomeKit accessories
and also between Apple TV and other iOS devices that are part of the
If a user doesn’t have multiple devices, and refuses to grant additional
users access to their home, no HomeKit data is synchronized to iCloud.
29iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Home data and apps
Access to home data by apps is controlled by the user’s Privacy settings.
Usersare asked to grant access when apps request home data, similar
to Contacts, Photos, and other iOS data sources. If the user approves,
apps have access to the names of rooms, names of accessories, and
which room each accessory is in, and other information as detailed in
the HomeKit developer documentation at: https://developer.apple.com/
HomeKit and Siri
Siri can be used to query and control accessories, and to activate
scenes. Minimal information about the configuration of the home is
provided anonymously to Siri, to provide names of rooms, accessories,
and scenes thatare necessary for command recognition. Audio sent to
Siri may denote specific accessories or commands, but such Siri data
isn’t associated with otherApple features such as HomeKit. For more
information, refer to “Siri” inthe Internet Services section of this paper.
HomeKit IP cameras
IP cameras in HomeKit send video and audio streams directly to the
iOS device on the local network accessing the stream. The streams are
encrypted using randomly generated keys on the iOS device and the IP
camera, which are exchanged over the secure HomeKit session to the
camera. When the iOS device isn’t on the local network, the encrypted
streams are relayed via the home hub to the iOS device. The home hub
doesn’t decrypt the streams and only functions as a relay between the
iOS device and the IP camera. When an app displays the HomeKit IP
camera video view to the user, HomeKit is rendering the video frames
securely from a separate system process so the app is unable to access
or store the video stream. In addition, apps are not permitted to capture
screenshots from this stream.
iCloud remote access for HomeKit accessories
HomeKit accessories can connect directly with iCloud to enable iOS
devices to control the accessory when Bluetooth or Wi-Fi communication
iCloud remote access has been carefully designed so that accessories
can becontrolled and send notifications without revealing to Apple
what the accessories are, or what commands and notifications are being
sent. HomeKit doesn’t send information about the home over iCloud
When a user sends a command using iCloud remote access, the
accessory and iOS device are mutually authenticated and data is
encrypted using the same procedure described for local connections.
The contents of the communications are encrypted and not visible to
Apple. The addressing through iCloud is based on the iCloud identifiers
registered during the setup process.
Accessories that support iCloud remote access are provisioned during
the accessory’s setup process. The provisioning process begins with
the user signing in to iCloud. Next, the iOS device asks the accessory
to sign a challenge using the Apple Authentication Coprocessor that’s
built into all Built for HomeKit accessories. The accessory also generates
prime256v1 elliptic curve keys, and the public key is sent to the
30iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
iOSdevice along with the signed challenge and the X.509 certificate of
the authentication coprocessor. These are used to request a certificate
for the accessory from the iCloud provisioning server. The certificate is
stored by the accessory, but it doesn’t contain any identifying information
about the accessory, other than it has been granted access to HomeKit
iCloud remote access. The iOS device that is conducting the provisioning
also sends a bag tothe accessory, which contains the URLs and other
information needed to connect to the iCloud remote access server. This
information isn’t specific to any user or accessory.
Each accessory registers a list of allowed users with the iCloud remote
access server. These users have been granted the ability to control the
accessory bythe person who added the accessory to the home. Users
are granted an identifier by the iCloud server and can be mapped to an
iCloud account for thepurpose of delivering notification messages and
responses from the accessories. Similarly, accessories have iCloud-
issued identifiers, but these identifiers are opaque and don’t reveal any
information about the accessory itself.
When an accessory connects to the HomeKit iCloud remote access
server, itpresents its certificate and a pass. The pass is obtained from
a different iCloud server and it isn’t unique for each accessory. When
an accessory requests a pass, it includes its manufacturer, model, and
firmware version in its request. Nouser-identifying or home-identifying
information is sent in this request. The connection to the pass server
isn’t authenticated, in order to help protect privacy.
Accessories connect to the iCloud remote access server using HTTP/2,
securedusing TLS v1.2 with AES-128-GCM and SHA-256. The accessory
keeps its connection to the iCloud remote access server open so that
it can receive incoming messages and send responses and outgoing
notifications toiOS devices.
Siri utilizes the iOS Extension mechanism to communicate with third-
party apps. Although Siri has access to iOS contacts and the device’s
current location, Siri checks the permission to access iOS-protected user
data of the app containing the Extension to see if the app has access
before providing that information to it. Siri passes only the relevant
fragment of the original user query text to the extension. For example,
if the app doesn’t have access to iOS contacts, Siri won’t resolve a
relationship in a user request such as “Pay my mother 10 dollars using
PaymentApp.” In this case, the Extension’s app would only see “mother”
through the raw utterance fragment being passed to it. However, if the
app does have iOS contacts access, it would receive the iOS contact
information for the user’s mother. If a contact were referred to in the
body of a message—for example, “Tell my mother on Message app that
my brother is awesome”—Siri wouldn’t resolve “my brother” regardless
of the app’s TCCs. Content presented by the app may be sent to the
server to allow Siri to understand vocabulary a user may use in the app.
In cases like “Get me a ride to my mom’s home using <app name>”—
where theuser’s request requires location information to be retrieved
from the user’s contacts, Siri provides that location information to the
app’s extension, for that request only, regardless of the app’s location or
31iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
At runtime, Siri allows the SiriKit-enabled app to provide a set of custom
words specific to application instance. These custom words are tied to
the random identifier discussed in the Siri section of this paper, and have
the same lifetime.
HealthKit stores and aggregates data from health and fitness apps with
permission of the user. HealthKit also works directly with health and
fitness devices, such as compatible Bluetooth LE heart rate monitors
andthe motion coprocessor built into many iOS devices.
HealthKit stores and aggregates the user’s health data, such as height,
weight,distance walked, blood pressure, and so on. This data is stored in
Data Protection class Complete Protection, which means it is accessible
only after a user enters their passcode or uses TouchID or FaceID to
unlock the device.
HealthKit also aggregates management data, such as access permissions
for apps, names of devices connected to HealthKit, and scheduling
information used to launch apps when new data is available. This data is
stored in Data Protection class Protected Until First User Authentication.
Temporary journal files store health records that are generated when the
deviceis locked, such as when the user is exercising. These are stored
in DataProtection class Protected Unless Open. When the device is
unlocked, thetemporary journal files are imported into the primary health
databases, thendeleted when the merge is completed.
Health data can be stored in iCloud. When configured for iCloud storage,
Healthdata is synced between devices and secured by encryption that
protects the data both in transit and at rest. Health data is only included
in encrypted iTunes Backups. It is not included in either unencrypted
iTunes backups or iCloud Backup.
Data stored in the database includes metadata to track the provenance of
each data record. This metadata includes an app identifier that identifies
which app stored the record. Additionally, an optional metadata item can
contain a digitally signed copy of the record. This is intended to provide
data integrity for records generated by a trusted device. The format used
for the digital signature is the Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS)
specified in IETF RFC 5652.
Access by third-party apps
Access to the HealthKit API is controlled with entitlements, and apps
must conform to restrictions about how the data is used. For example,
apps aren’t allowed to utilize health data for advertising. Apps are also
Access to health data by apps is controlled by the user’s Privacy
settings. Users are asked to grant access when apps request access to
health data, similar to Contacts, Photos, and other iOS data sources.
However, with health data, apps are granted separate access for reading
and writing data, as well as separate access for each type of health data.
Users can view, and revoke, permissions they’ve granted for accessing
health data in the Sources tab of the Health app.
32iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
If granted permission to write data, apps can also read the data they
write. If granted the permission to read data, they can read data written
by all sources. However, apps can’t determine access granted to other
apps. In addition, apps can’t conclusively tell if they have been granted
read access to health data. When an app doesn’t have read access, all
queries return no data—the same response as an empty database would
return. This prevents apps from inferring the user’s health status by
learning which types of data the user is tracking.
The Health app gives users the option of filling out a Medical ID form with
information that could be important during a medical emergency. The
information is entered or updated manually and isn’t synchronized with
the information in the health databases.
The Medical ID information is viewed by tapping the Emergency button
on the Lock screen. The information is stored on the device using Data
Protection classNo Protection so that it is accessible without having to
enter the device passcode. Medical ID is an optional feature that enables
users to decide how tobalance both safety and privacy concerns.
ReplayKit is a framework that allows developers to add recording and
live broadcasting capabilities to their apps. In addition, it allows users to
annotate their recordings and broadcasts using the device’s front-facing
camera and microphone.
There are several layers of security built into recording a movie:
• Permissions dialog: Before recording starts, ReplayKit presents a user
consent alert requesting that the user acknowledge their intent to
record the screen, the microphone, and the front-facing camera. This
alert is presented once per app process, and will be re-presented if
the app is left in the background for longer than 8 minutes.
• Screen and audio capture: Screen and audio capture occurs out of
the app’s process in ReplayKit’s daemon replayd. This ensures the
recorded content is never accessible to the app process.
• Movie creation and storage: The movie file is written to a directory
that’s only accessible to ReplayKit’s subsystems and is never
accessible to any apps. This prevents recordings being used by
third parties without the user’s consent.
• End-user preview and sharing: The user has the ability to preview
andshare the movie with UI vended by ReplayKit. The UI is presented
out-of-process via the iOS Extension infrastructure and has access to
the generated movie file.
33iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
• Screen and audio capture: The screen and audio capture mechanism
during broadcasting is identical to movie recording and occurs in
• Broadcast extensions: For third-party services to participate in
ReplayKit broadcasting, they’re required to create two new extensions
that are configured with the com.apple.broadcast-services endpoint:
– A UI extension that allows the user to set up their broadcast
– An upload extension that handles uploading video and audio data to
the service’s back-end servers
The architecture ensures that hosting apps have no privileges to the
broadcasted video and audio contents–only ReplayKit and the third-party
broadcast extensions have access.
• Broadcast picker: To select which broadcast service to use, ReplayKit
provides a view controller (similar to UIActivityViewController) that the
developer can present in their app. The view controller is implemented
using the UIRemoteViewController SPI and is an extension that lives
within the ReplayKit framework. It is out-of-process from the hosting
• Upload extension: The upload extension that third-party broadcast
services implement to handle video and audio content during
broadcasting can choose to receive content in two ways:
– Small encoded MP4 clips
– Raw unencoded sample buffers
• MP4 clip handling: During this mode of handling, the small
encoded MP4clips are generated by replayd and stored in a
private location only accessible to ReplayKit’s subsystems. Once
a movie clip is generated, replayd will pass the location of the
movie clip to the third-party upload extension via the NSExtension
request SPI (XPC based). replayd also generates a one-time
sandbox token that’s also passed to the upload extension, which
grants the extension access to the particular movie clip during the
• Sample buffer handling: During this mode of handling, video
and audio data is serialized and passed to the third-party upload
extension in real time through a direct XPC connection. Video
data is encoded by extracting the IOSurface object from the video
sample buffer, encoding it securely as an XPC object, sending over
via XPC to the third-party extension, and decoding securely back
into an IOSurface object.
34iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
The Notes app includes a Secure Notes feature that allows users to
protect thecontents of specific notes. Secure notes are encrypted using
a user-provided passphrase that is required to view the notes on iOS,
macOS, and theiCloud website.
When a user secures a note, a 16-byte key is derived from the user’s
passphrase using PBKDF2 and SHA256. The note’s contents are
encrypted using AES-GCM. New records are created in Core Data and
CloudKit to store theencrypted note, tag, and initialization vector, and
the original note records aredeleted; the encrypted data isn’t written
in place. Attachments are also encrypted in the same way. Supported
attachments include images, sketches, tables, maps, and websites.
Notes containing other types of attachments can’t be encrypted, and
unsupported attachments can’t be added to secure notes.
When a user successfully enters the passphrase, whether to view or
create a secure note, Notes opens a secure session. While open, the user
isn’t required to enter the passphrase—or use TouchID or FaceID—to
view or secure other notes. However, if some notes have a different
passphrase, the secure session applies only to notes protected with the
current passphrase. The secure session is closed when:
• The user taps the Lock Now button in Notes.
• Notes is switched to the background for more than 3 minutes.
• The device locks.
Users who forget their passphrase can still view secure notes or secure
additional notes if they enabled TouchID or FaceID on their devices. In
addition, Notes will show a user-supplied hint after three failed attempts
to enter the passphrase. The user must know the current passphrase in
order tochange it.
Users can reset the passphrase if they have forgotten the current
one. This feature allows users to create new secure notes with a new
passphrase, but it won’t allow them to see previously secured notes.
The previously secured notes can still be viewed if the old passphrase
is remembered. Resetting the passphrase requires the user’s iCloud
Notes can be shared with others. Shared Notes are not end-to-end
encrypted. Apple uses the CloudKit encrypted data type for any text or
attachments that the user puts in a note. Assets are always encrypted
with a key that’s encrypted in theCKRecord. Metadata, such as the
creation and modification dates, aren’t encrypted. CloudKit manages the
process by which participants can encrypt/decrypt each other’s data.
Apple Watch uses the security features and technology built for iOS
to help protect data on the device, as well as communications with its
paired iPhone and the Internet. This includes technologies such as Data
Protection and Keychain access control. The user’s passcode is also
entangled with the deviceUID to create encryption keys.
35iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Pairing Apple Watch with iPhone is secured using an out-of-band (OOB)
process to exchange public keys, followed by the BTLE link shared
secret. AppleWatch displays an animated pattern, which is captured by
the camera oniPhone. The pattern contains an encoded secret that is
used for BTLE 4.1 out-of-band pairing. Standard BTLE Passkey Entry is
used as a fallback pairing method, if necessary.
Once the BTLE session is established, Apple Watch and iPhone exchange
keys using a process adapted from IDS, as described in the iMessage
section of this paper. Once keys have been exchanged, the Bluetooth
session key is discarded, and all communications between Apple Watch
and iPhone are encrypted usingIDS, with the encrypted Bluetooth, Wi-Fi,
and Cellular links providing a secondary encryption layer. Key rolling is
utilized at 15-minute intervals to limit the exposure window, should traffic
To support apps that need streaming data, encryption is provided using
methods described under “FaceTime” in the Internet Services section of
this paper, utilizing either the IDS service provided by the paired iPhone
or a direct Internet connection.
Apple Watch implements hardware-encrypted storage and class-based
protection of files and Keychain items, as described in the Encryption
and Data Protection section of this paper. Access-controlled keybags for
Keychain items are also used. Keys used for communications between
the watch and iPhone are also secured using class-based protection.
When Apple Watch isn’t within Bluetooth range, Wi-Fi or cellular can
be used instead. Apple Watch won’t join Wi-Fi networks unless the
credentials—which must have previously been synced to Apple Watch—
are already present on thepaired iPhone. If Apple Watch is out of range
of iPhone, any new network credentials on iPhone aren’t on Apple Watch.
Apple Watch can be manually locked by holding down the side button.
Additionally, motion heuristics are used to attempt to automatically lock
the device shortly after it’s removed from the wrist. When Apple Watch
is locked, Apple Pay can only be used by entering the watch’s passcode.
Wrist detection is turned off using the Apple Watch app on iPhone. This
setting can also be enforced using an MDM solution.
The paired iPhone can also unlock the watch, provided the watch is being
worn. This is accomplished by establishing a connection authenticated
by the keys established during pairing. iPhone sends the key, which the
watch uses tounlock its Data Protection keys. The watch passcode isn’t
known to iPhone nor is it transmitted. This feature can be turned off
using the Apple Watch app on iPhone.
Apple Watch can be paired with only one iPhone at a time. iPhone
communicates instructions to erase all content and data from
AppleWatch when unpaired.
Enabling Find My iPhone on the paired iPhone also allows the use of
Activation Lock on Apple Watch. Activation Lock makes it harder for
anyone to use or sell an Apple Watch that has been lost or stolen.
Activation Lock requires the user’s Apple ID and password to unpair,
erase, or reactivate an Apple Watch.
36iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
In addition to the built-in safeguards Apple uses to protect data
stored on iOS devices, there are many network security measures that
organizations can take to keep information secure as it travels to and
from an iOS device.
Mobile users must be able to access corporate networks from anywhere
in theworld, so it’s important to ensure that they are authorized and
their data is protected during transmission. iOS uses—and provides
developer access to—standard networking protocols for authenticated,
authorized, and encrypted communications. To accomplish these
security objectives, iOS integrates proven technologies and the latest
standards for both Wi-Fi and cellular data network connections.
On other platforms, firewall software is needed to protect open
communication ports against intrusion. Because iOS achieves a reduced
attack surface by limiting listening ports and removing unnecessary
network utilities such as telnet, shells, or a web server, no additional
firewall software is needed on iOSdevices.
iOS supports Transport Layer Security (TLS v1.0, TLS v1.1, TLS v1.2)
and DTLS. It supports both AES-128 and AES-256, and prefers cipher
suites with perfect forward secrecy. Safari, Calendar, Mail, and other
Internet apps automatically use this protocol to enable an encrypted
communication channel between thedevice and network services.
High-level APIs (such as CFNetwork) makeiteasy for developers to
adopt TLS in their apps, while low-level APIs (SecureTransport) provide
fine-grained control. CFNetwork disallows SSLv3, and apps that use
WebKit (such as Safari) are prohibited from making an SSLv3connection.
As of iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra, SHA-1 certificates are no longer
allowed for TLS connections unless trusted by the user. Certificates with
RSA keys shorter than 2048 bits are also disallowed. The RC4 symmetric
cipher suite isdeprecated in iOS 10 and macOS Sierra. By default, TLS
clients or servers implemented with SecureTransport APIs don’t have
RC4 cipher suites enabled, and are unable to connect when RC4 is the
only cipher suite available. To be more secure, services or apps that
require RC4 should be upgraded to use modern, secure cipher suites.
App Transport Security
App Transport Security provides default connection requirements so
that apps adhere to best practices for secure connections when
using NSURLConnection, CFURL, or NSURLSession APIs. By default,
App Transport Security limits cipherselection to include only suites
that provide forward secrecy, specifically ECDHE_ECDSA_AES and
ECDHE_RSA_AES in GCM or CBC mode. Apps are able to disable the
forward secrecy requirement per-domain, in which case RSA_AES is
added to the set of available ciphers.
37iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Servers must support TLS v1.2 and forward secrecy, and certificates must
be valid and signed using SHA-256 or better with a minimum 2048-bit
RSA key or256-bit elliptic curve key.
Network connections that don’t meet these requirements will fail, unless
the app overrides App Transport Security. Invalid certificates always
result in a hard failure and no connection. App Transport Security is
automatically applied to apps that are compiled for iOS 9 or later.
Secure network services like virtual private networking typically
require minimal setup and configuration to work with iOS devices. iOS
devices work with VPN servers that support the following protocols and
• IKEv2/IPSec with authentication by shared secret, RSA Certificates,
ECDSA Certificates, EAP-MSCHAPv2, or EAP-TLS
• SSL-VPN using the appropriate client app from the App Store
• Cisco IPSec with user authentication by password, RSA SecurID or
CRYPTOCard, and machine authentication by shared secret and
• L2TP/IPSec with user authentication by MS-CHAPV2 password, RSA
SecurID or CRYPTOCard, and machine authentication by shared secret
iOS supports the following:
• VPN On Demand for networks that use certificate-based authentication.
ITpolicies specify which domains require a VPN connection by using a
VPN configuration profile.
• Per App VPN for facilitating VPN connections on a much more granular
basis. MDM can specify a connection for each managed app and
specific domains inSafari. This helps ensure that secure data always
goes to and from the corporate network—and that a user’s personal
• Always-on VPN, which can be configured for devices managed via
MDM and supervised using Apple Configurator2, the Device Enrollment
Program, or Apple School Manager. This eliminates the need for users
to turn on VPN to enable protection when connecting to cellular and
Wi-Fi networks. Always-on VPN gives an organization full control over
device traffic by tunneling all IP traffic back to the organization. The
default tunneling protocol, IKEv2, secures traffic transmission with data
encryption. The organization can monitor and filter traffic to and from
its devices, secure data within its network, and restrict device access to
iOS supports industry-standard Wi-Fi protocols, including WPA2
Enterprise, to provide authenticated access to wireless corporate
networks. WPA2 Enterprise uses 128-bit AES encryption, giving users the
highest level of assurance that their data remains protected when sending
and receiving communications overa Wi-Fi network connection. With
support for 802.1X, iOS devices can be integrated into a broad range of
RADIUS authentication environments.
38iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
802.1X wireless authentication methods supported on iPhone and iPad
include EAP-TLS, EAP-TTLS, EAP-FAST, EAP-SIM, PEAPv0, PEAPv1,
Besides protection for data, iOS extends WPA2 level protection to unicast
and multicast management frames through Protected Management Frame
service referred in 802.11w. PMF support is available on iPhone 6 and
iPad Air 2 or later.
iOS uses randomized Media Access Control (MAC) address when
conducting Wi-Fi scans while it isn’t associated with a Wi-Fi network.
These scans could beperformed in order to find and connect a preferred
Wi-Fi network or to assistLocation Services for apps that use geofences,
such as location-based reminders or fixing a location in Apple Maps.
Note that Wi-Fi scans which happen while trying to connect to a
preferred Wi-Fi Network aren’t randomized.
iOS also uses a randomized MAC address when conducting enhanced
Preferred Network Offload (ePNO) scans when a device isn’t associated
with a Wi-Fi network or its processor is asleep. ePNO scans are run when
a device uses Location Services for apps which use geofences, such as
location-based reminders that determine whether the device is near a
Because a device’s MAC address now changes when disconnected
from a Wi-Fi network, it can’t be used to persistently track a device by
passive observers of Wi-Fi traffic, even when the device is connected
to a cellular network. Apple hasinformed Wi-Fi manufacturers that iOS
Wi-Fi scans use a randomized MACaddress, and that neither Apple nor
manufacturers can predict these randomized MAC addresses. Wi-Fi MAC
address randomization support isn’t available on iPhone4s or earlier.
On iPhone 6S or later, the hidden property of a known Wi-Fi network is
known and updated automatically. If the Service Set Identifier (SSID) of a
Wi-Fi network is broadcasted, the iOS device won’t send a probe with the
SSID included in therequest. This prevents the device from broadcasting
the network name of non-hidden networks.
To protect the device from vulnerabilities in network processor firmware,
network interfaces including Wi-Fi and baseband have limited access to
application processor memory. When USB or SDIO is used to interface
with thenetwork processor, the network processor cannot initiate Direct
Memory Access (DMA) transactions to the application processor. When
PCIe is used, each network processor is on its own isolated PCIe bus. An
IOMMU on each PCIe bus limits the network processor’s DMA access to
pages of memory containing its network packets or control structures.
39iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Bluetooth support in iOS has been designed to provide useful
functionality without unnecessary increased access to private data. iOS
devices support Encryption Mode 3, Security Mode 4, and Service Level 1
connections. iOS supports the following Bluetooth profiles:
• Hands-Free Profile (HFP 1.5)
• Phone Book Access Profile (PBAP)
• Message Access Profile (MAP)
• Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP)
• Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP)
• Personal Area Network Profile (PAN)
• Human Interface Device Profile (HID)
• Support for these profiles varies by device.
For more information, go to:
iOS supports authentication to enterprise networks through Single
Sign-on (SSO). SSO works with Kerberos-based networks to authenticate
users to services they are authorized to access. SSO can be used for a
range of network activities, from secure Safari sessions to third-party
apps. Certificate-based authentication (PKINIT) is also supported.
iOS SSO utilizes SPNEGO tokens and the HTTP Negotiate protocol
to work withKerberos-based authentication gateways and Windows
Integrated Authentication systems that support Kerberos tickets.
SSO support is based onthe open source Heimdal project.
The following encryption types are supported:
Safari supports SSO, and third-party apps that use standard iOS
networking APIs can also be configured to use it. To configure SSO,
iOS supports a configuration profile payload that allows MDM solutions
to push down the necessary settings. This includes setting the user
principal name (that is, theActive Directory user account) and Kerberos
realm settings, as well as configuring which apps and Safari web URLs
should be allowed to use SSO.
iOS devices that support AirDrop use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
and Apple-created peer-to-peer Wi-Fi technology to send files and
information to nearby devices, including AirDrop-capable Mac computers
running OSX 10.11 or later. The Wi-Fi radio is used to communicate
directly between devices without using any Internet connection or Wi-Fi
40iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
When a user enables AirDrop, a 2048-bit RSA identity is stored on the
device. Additionally, an AirDrop identity hash is created based on the
email addresses and phone numbers associated with the user’s Apple ID.
When a user chooses AirDrop as the method for sharing an item, the
device emits an AirDrop signal over Bluetooth Low Energy. Other devices
that are awake, in close proximity, and have AirDrop turned on detect the
signal and respond with a shortened version of their owner’s identity hash.
AirDrop is set to share with Contacts Only by default. Users can also
choose to use AirDrop to share with everyone, or turn off the feature
entirely. In Contacts Only mode, the received identity hashes are
compared with hashes of people inthe initiator’s Contacts app. If
a match is found, the sending device creates apeer-to-peer Wi-Fi
network and advertises an AirDrop connection using Bonjour. Using
this connection, the receiving devices send their full identity hashes
to the initiator. If the full hash still matches Contacts, the recipient’s
firstname and photo (if present in Contacts) are displayed in the AirDrop
When using AirDrop, the sending user selects who they want to share
with. Thesending device initiates an encrypted (TLS) connection with the
receiving device, which exchanges their iCloud identity certificates. The
identity in the certificates is verified against each user’s Contacts app.
Then the receiving user is asked to accept the incoming transfer from the
identified person or device. Ifmultiple recipients have been selected, this
process is repeated for each destination.
In the Everyone mode, the same process is used but if a match in
Contacts isn’tfound, the receiving devices are shown in the AirDrop
sendsheet with a silhouette with the device’s name, as defined in
Settings > General > About > Name.
Organizations can restrict the use of AirDrop for devices or apps being
managed by using an MDM solution.
Wi-Fi password sharing
iOS devices that support Wi-Fi password sharing use a mechanism
similar to AirDrop to send a Wi-Fi password from one device to another.
When a user selects a Wi-Fi network (requestor) and is prompted for
the Wi-Fi password, the Apple device starts a Bluetooth Low Energy
advertisement indicating that it wants the Wi-Fi password. Other Apple
devices that are awake, in close proximity, and have the password for
the selected Wi-Fi network connect using Bluetooth Low Energy to the
The device that has the Wi-Fi password (grantor) requires the Contact
information of the requestor, and the requestor must prove their identity
using asimilar mechanism to AirDrop. Once identify is proven, the
grantor sends the requestor the 64 character PSK, which can also be
used to join the network.
Organizations can restrict the use of Wi-Fi password sharing for devices
or apps being managed by using an MDM solution.
41iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
With Apple Pay, users can use supported iOS devices and Apple Watch
to pay inan easy, secure, and private way in stores, apps, and on the
web in Safari. It’ssimple for users, and it’s built with integrated security
in both hardware andsoftware.
Apple Pay is also designed to protect the user’s personal information.
Apple Pay doesn’t collect any transaction information that can be
tied back to the user. Payment transactions are between the user, the
merchant, and the card issuer.
Apple Pay components
Secure Element: The Secure Element is an industry-standard, certified
chip running the Java Card platform, which is compliant with financial
industry requirements for electronic payments.
NFC controller: The NFC controller handles Near Field Communication
protocols and routes communication between the application processor
and theSecure Element, and between the Secure Element and the point-
Wallet: Wallet is used to add and manage credit, debit, rewards, and
store cardsand to make payments with Apple Pay. Users can view their
cards and additional information about their card issuer, their card
can also add cards to Apple Pay in Setup Assistant and Settings.
Secure Enclave: On iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, the Secure Enclave
manages the authentication process and enables a payment transaction
On Apple Watch, the device must be unlocked, and the user must
double-click the side button. The double-click is detected and passed to
the Secure Element or Secure Enclave where available, directly without
going through the application processor.
Apple Pay servers: The Apple Pay servers manage the setup and
provisioning ofcredit and debit cards in Wallet and the Device Account
Numbers stored inthe Secure Element. They communicate both with the
device and with the payment network servers. The Apple Pay servers
are also responsible for re-encrypting payment credentials for payments
42iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
How Apple Pay uses the Secure Element
The Secure Element hosts a specially designed applet to manage Apple
Pay. Italso includes payment applets certified by the payment networks.
Credit, debit, or prepaid card data is sent from the payment network
or card issuer encrypted to these payment applets using keys that are
known only to the payment network and the payment applets’ security
domain. This data is storedwithin these payment applets and protected
using the Secure Element’s security features. During a transaction, the
terminal communicates directly with the Secure Element through the Near
Field Communication (NFC) controller over a dedicated hardware bus.
How Apple Pay uses the NFC controller
As the gateway to the Secure Element, the NFC controller ensures that
all contactless payment transactions are conducted using a point-of-sale
terminal that is in close proximity with the device. Only payment requests
arriving from an in-field terminal are marked by the NFC controller as
Once payment is authorized by the cardholder using TouchID or
passcode, or on an unlocked Apple Watch by double-clicking the side
button, contactless responses prepared by the payment applets within
the Secure Element are exclusively routed by the controller to the NFC
field. Consequently, payment authorization details for contactless
transactions are contained to the local NFC field and are never exposed
to the application processor. In contrast, payment authorization details
for payments within apps and on the web are routed to the application
processor, but only after encryption by the Secure Element to the
Credit, debit, and prepaid card provisioning
When a user adds a credit, debit, or prepaid card (including store cards)
toApple Pay, Apple securely sends the card information, along with other
information about user’s account and device, to the card issuer or card
issuer’s authorized service provider. Using this information, the card
issuer will determine whether to approve adding the card to Apple Pay.
Apple Pay uses three server-side calls to send and receive
communication with the card issuer or network as part of the card
provisioning process: Required Fields, Check Card, and Link and
Provision. The card issuer or network uses these calls to verify, approve,
and add cards to Apple Pay. These client-server sessions are encrypted
using TLS v1.2.
Full card numbers aren’t stored on the device or on Apple servers.
Instead, a unique Device Account Number is created, encrypted, and then
stored in the Secure Element. This unique Device Account Number is
encrypted in such a way that Apple can’t access it. The Device Account
Number is unique and different from usual credit or debit card numbers,
the card issuer can prevent itsuse on a magnetic stripe card, over
the phone, or on websites. The Device Account Number in the Secure
Element is isolated from iOS and watchOS, is never stored on Apple
servers, and is never backed up to iCloud.
43iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Cards for use with Apple Watch are provisioned for Apple Pay using the
Apple Watch app on iPhone. Provisioning a card for Apple Watch requires
that the watch be within Bluetooth communications range. Cards are
specifically enrolled for use with Apple Watch and have their own Device
Account Numbers, which are stored within the Secure Element on the
Apple Watch.There are three ways to provision a credit, debit, or prepaid
card into Apple Pay:
• Adding a card manually to Apple Pay
• Adding credit or debit cards on file from an iTunes Store account to
• Adding cards from a card issuer’s app
Adding a credit or debit card manually to Apple Pay
To add a card manually, including store cards, the name, credit card
number, expiration date, and CVV are used to facilitate the provisioning
process. From within Settings, the Wallet app, or the Apple Watch app,
users can enter that information by typing, or using the camera on the
device. When the camera captures the card information, Apple attempts
to populate the name, card number, and expiration date. The photo is
never saved to the device or stored inthe photo library. Once all the fields
are filled in, the Check Card process verifies the fields other than the
CVV. They are encrypted and sent to the ApplePay Server.
If a terms and conditions ID is returned with the Check Card process, Apple
downloads and displays the terms and conditions of the card issuer to the
user.If the user accepts the terms and conditions, Apple sends the ID of
theterms that were accepted as well as the CVV to the Link and Provision
process.Additionally, as part of the Link and Provision process, Apple
shares information from the device with the card issuer or network, like
information about your iTunes and App Store account activity (for example,
whether you havea long history of transactions within iTunes), information
about your device (for example, phone number, name, and model of your
device plus anycompanion iOS device necessary to set up Apple Pay),
as well as your approximate location at the time you add your card (if you
have Location Services enabled). Using this information, the card issuer will
determine whether to approve adding the card to Apple Pay.
As the result of the Link and Provision process, two things occur:
• The device begins to download the Wallet pass file representing the
credit ordebit card.
• The device begins to bind the card to the Secure Element.
The pass file contains URLs to download card art, metadata about the
card suchas contact information, the related issuer’s app, and supported
features. Italso contains the pass state, which includes information such
as whether thepersonalizing of the Secure Element has completed,
whether the card is currently suspended by the card issuer, or whether
additional verification is required before the card can make payments with
44iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Adding credit or debit cards from an iTunes Store account
to Apple Pay
For a credit or debit card on file with iTunes, the user may be required
to re-enter their Apple ID password. The card number is retrieved from
iTunes andthe Check Card process is initiated. If the card is eligible for
Apple Pay, thedevice will download and display terms and conditions,
then send along theterm’s ID and the card security code to the Link and
Provision process. Additional verification may occur for iTunes account
cards on file.
Adding credit or debit cards from a card issuer’s app
When the app is registered for use with Apple Pay, keys are established
for theapp and the merchant’s server. These keys are used to encrypt
the card information that’s sent to the merchant, which prevents the
information from being read by the iOS device. The provisioning flow
is similar to that used for manually added cards, described previously,
except one-time passwords are used in lieu of the CVV.
A card issuer can decide whether a credit or debit card requires additional
verification. Depending on what is offered by the card issuer, the user may
beable to choose between different options for additional verification,
such as atext message, email, customer service call, or a method in an
approved third-party app to complete the verification. For text messages
or email, the user selects from contact information the issuer has on file.
A code will be sent, which the user will need to enter into Wallet, Settings,
or the Apple Watch app. For customer service or verification using an app,
the issuer performs their owncommunication process.
On devices that have a Secure Enclave, the Secure Element will allow
a payment to be made only after it receives authorization from the
Secure Enclave. On iPhone or iPad, this involves confirming the user
has authenticated with TouchID, FaceID, or the device passcode.
TouchID or FaceID is the default method if available, but the passcode
can be used at any time. A passcode is automatically offered after
three unsuccessful attempts to match a fingerprint or two unsuccessful
attempts to match a face; after five unsuccessful attempts, the passcode
is required. A passcode is also required when TouchID or FaceID is not
configured or not enabled for Apple Pay. On Apple Watch, the device
must be unlocked with passcode and the side button must be double-
clicked for a payment to be made.
Communication between the Secure Enclave and the Secure Element
takes place over a serial interface, with the Secure Element connected
to the NFC controller, which in turn is connected to the application
processor. Though not directly connected, the Secure Enclave and
Secure Element can communicate securely using a shared pairing key
that is provisioned during the manufacturing process. The encryption
and authentication of the communication are based on AES, with
cryptographic nonces used by both sides to protect against replay
attacks. The pairing key is generated inside the Secure Enclave from its
UID key and the Secure Element’s unique identifier. The pairing key is
then securely transferred from the Secure Enclave to a hardware security
module (HSM) in the factory, which has the key material required to then
inject the pairing key into the Secure Element.
45iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
When the user authorizes a transaction, the Secure Enclave sends signed
dataabout the type of authentication and details about the type of
transaction (contactless or within apps) to the Secure Element, tied to
an Authorization Random (AR) value. The AR is generated in the Secure
Enclave when a user first provisions a credit card and persists while
Apple Pay is enabled, protected by the Secure Enclave’s encryption and
anti-rollback mechanism. It is securely delivered to the Secure Element
via the pairing key. On receipt of a new AR value, the Secure Element
marks any previously added cards as deleted.
Credit, debit, and prepaid cards added to the Secure Element can only
be used if the Secure Element is presented with authorization using
the same pairing keyand AR value from when the card was added. This
allows iOS to instruct theSecure Enclave to render cards unusable by
marking its copy of the AR as invalid under the following scenarios:
• When the passcode is disabled.
• The user signs out of iCloud.
• The user selects Erase All Content and Settings.
• The device is restored from recovery mode.
With Apple Watch, cards are marked as invalid when:
• The watch’s passcode is disabled.
• The watch is unpaired from iPhone.
• Wrist detection is turned off.
Using the pairing key and its copy of the current AR value, the Secure
Element verifies the authorization received from the Secure Enclave
before enabling thepayment applet for a contactless payment. This
process also applies when retrieving encrypted payment data from a
payment applet for transactions within apps.
Transaction-specific dynamic security code
All payment transactions originating from the payment applets include
a transaction-specific dynamic security code along with a Device
Account Number. This one-time code is computed using a counter that
is incremented for each new transaction, and a key that’s provisioned in
the payment applet during personalization and is known by the payment
network and/or the card issuer. Depending on the payment scheme,
otherdata may also be used in thecalculation of these codes, including
• A random number generated by the payment applet.
• Another random number generated by the terminal—in the case of an
• Another random number generated by the server—in the case of
transactions within apps.
These security codes are provided to the payment network and the card
issuer, which allows them to verify each transaction. The length of these
security codes may vary based on the type of transaction being done.
46iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Contactless payments with Apple Pay
If iPhone is on and detects an NFC field, it will present the user with the
relevant credit, debit, prepaid card, or the default card, which is managed
in Settings. The user can also go to the Wallet app and choose a credit or
debit card, or when the device is locked, double-click the Home button.
Next, the user must authenticate using TouchID, FaceID, or their
passcode before payment information is transmitted. When Apple Watch
is unlocked, double-clicking the side button activates the default card
for payment. No payment information is sent without user authentication.
Once the user authenticates, the Device Account Number and a
transaction-specific dynamic security code are used when processing the
payment. Neither Apple nor a user’s device sends the full actual credit
or debit card numbers to merchants. Apple may receive anonymous
transaction information such as the approximate time and location of the
transaction, which helps improve Apple Pay and other Apple products
Paying with Apple Pay within apps
Apple Pay can also be used to make payments within iOS apps and
Apple Watch apps as of watchOS 3. When users pay within apps
using Apple Pay, Apple receives encrypted transaction information
and re-encrypts it with a developer-specific key before it’s sent to
the developer or merchant. Apple Pay retains anonymous transaction
information such as approximate purchase amount. This information can’t
be tied back to the user and never includes whatthe user is buying.
When an app initiates an Apple Pay payment transaction, the Apple Pay
Servers receive the encrypted transaction from the device prior to the
merchant receiving it. The Apple Pay Servers then re-encrypt it with a
merchant-specific keybefore relaying the transaction to the merchant.
When an app requests a payment, it calls an API to determine if the
device supports Apple Pay and if the user has credit or debit cards that
can make payments on a payment network accepted by the merchant.
The app requests any pieces of information it needs to process and fulfill
the transaction, such as the billing and shipping address, and contact
information. The app then asks iOS to present the Apple Pay sheet, which
requests information for the app, aswell as other necessary information,
such as the card to use.
At this time, the app is presented with city, state, and zip code
information tocalculate the final shipping cost. The full set of requested
information isn’t provided to the app until the user authorizes the
payment with TouchID, FaceID, or the device passcode. Once the
payment is authorized, the information presented in the Apple Pay sheet
will be transferred to the merchant.
When the user authorizes the payment, a call is made to the ApplePay
Servers to obtain a cryptographic nonce, which is similar to the value
returned by the NFC terminal used for in-store transactions. The nonce,
along with other transaction data, is passed to the Secure Element to
generate a payment credential that will be encrypted with an Apple
key. When the encrypted payment credential comes out of the Secure
Element, it’s passed to the Apple Pay Servers, which decrypt the
credential, verify the nonce in the credential against the nonce sent by
47iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
the Secure Element, and re-encrypt the payment credential with the
merchant key associated with the MerchantID. It’s then returned to the
device, which hands it back to the app via the API. The app then passes
it along to the merchant system for processing. The merchant can then
decrypt the payment credential with its private key for processing. This,
together with the signature from Apple’s servers, allows the merchant to
verify that the transaction was intended for this particular merchant.
The APIs require an entitlement that specifies the supported
MerchantIDs. An app can also include additional data to send to the
Secure Element to be signed, such as an order number or customer
identity, ensuring the transaction can’t be diverted to a different
customer. This is accomplished by the app developer, who can
specify applicationData on the PKPaymentRequest. A hash of this
data is included in the encrypted payment data. The merchant is then
responsible for verifying that their applicationData hash matches what’s
included in the payment data.
Paying with Apple Pay on the web or with Handoff
Apple Pay can be used to make payments on websites. In iOS 10 or later,
Apple Pay transactions can be made on the web on iPhone and iPad.
Also, in macOS Sierra or later, Apple Pay transactions can start on a Mac
and be completed on an Apple Pay enabled iPhone or Apple Watch using
the same iCloud account.
Apple Pay on the web requires all participating websites to register with
Apple. The Apple servers perform domain name validation and issue a
TLS client certificate. Websites supporting Apple Pay are required to
serve their content over HTTPS. For each payment transaction, websites
need to obtain a secure and unique merchant session with an Apple
server using the Apple-issued TLS client certificate. Merchant session
data is signed by Apple. Once a merchant session signature is verified,
a website may query whether the user has an Apple Pay capable device
and whether they have a credit, debit, or prepaid card activated on the
device. No other details are shared. If the user doesn’t want toshare this
information, they can disable Apple Pay queries in Safari privacy settings
on iOS and macOS.
Once a merchant session is validated, all security and privacy measures
are the same as when a user pays within an app.
In the case of Mac to iPhone or Apple Watch Handoff, Apple Pay uses
the end-to-end encrypted IDS protocol to transmit payment-related
information between the user’s Mac and the authorizing device. IDS uses
the user’s device keys to perform encryption so no other device can
decrypt this information, and the keys aren’t available to Apple. Device
discovery for Apple Pay Handoff contains the type and unique identifier
of the user’s credit cards along with some metadata. The device-specific
account number of the user’s card isn’t shared and it continues to
remain stored securely on the user’s iPhone or Apple Watch. Apple also
securely transfers the user’s recently used contact, shipping, and billing
addresses over iCloud Keychain.
Once the user authorizes payment using TouchID, FaceID, or their
passcode oniPhone or double-clicks the side button on Apple Watch, a
payment token uniquely encrypted to each website’s merchant certificate
is securely transmitted from the user’s iPhone or Apple Watch to their
Mac, and then delivered to the merchant’s website.
48iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Only devices in proximity to each other may request and complete
payment. Proximity is determined through Bluetooth Low Energy
In iOS 9 or later, Apple Pay supports the Value Added Service (VAS)
protocol fortransmitting merchant rewards cards to compatible NFC
terminals. The VASprotocol can be implemented on merchant terminals
and uses NFC to communicate with supported Apple devices. The
VAS protocol works over ashort distance and is used to provide
complementary services, such as transmission of rewards card
information, as part of an Apple Pay transaction.
The NFC terminal initiates receiving the card information by sending a
request for a card. If the user has a card with the store’s identifier, the
user is asked to authorize its use. If the merchant supports encryption,
the card information, atimestamp, and a single-use random ECDH P-256
key is used with the merchant’s public key to derive an encryption key
for the card data, which is sent to the terminal. If the merchant doesn’t
support encryption, the user is asked to re-present the device to the
terminal before the rewards card information is sent.
Apple Pay Cash
As of iOS 11.2 and watchOS 4.2, Apple Pay can be used on an iPhone,
iPad, orApple Watch to send, receive, and request money from other
users. When auser receives money, its added to an Apple Pay Cash
account that can be accessed in Wallet or within Settings > Wallet &
Apple Pay across any of the eligible devices the user has signed in with
their Apple ID.
To use person to person payments and Apple Pay Cash a user must be
signed into their iCloud account on an Apple Pay Cash compatible device,
and have two-factor authentication set up on the iCloud account.
When you set up Apple Pay Cash, the same information as when you add
a credit or debit card may be shared with our partner bank Green Dot
Bank and with Apple Payments Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary created
to protect your privacy by storing and processing information separately
from the rest of Apple and in a way that the rest of Apple doesn’t know.
This information is only used for troubleshooting, fraud prevention, and
Money requests and transfers between users are initiated from within the
Messages app or by asking Siri. When a user attempts to send money,
iMessage will display the Apple Pay sheet. The Apple Pay Cash balance is
always used first. If necessary, additional funds are drawn from a second
creditor debit card the user has added to Wallet.
The Apple Pay Cash card in Wallet can be used with Apple Pay to make
payments in stores, in apps, and on the web. Money in the Apple Pay
Cash account can also be transferred to a bank account. In addition to
receiving money from another user, money can be added to the Apple
Pay Cash account from a debit or prepaid card in Wallet.
49iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Apple Payments Inc. will store and may use your transaction data for
troubleshooting, fraud prevention, and regulatory purposes once a
transaction is completed. The rest of Apple doesn’t know who you sent
money to, received money from, or where you made a purchase with your
Apple Pay Cash card.
When the user sends money with Apple Pay, adds money to an Apple Pay
Cash account, or transfers money to a bank account, a call is made to
the Apple Pay Servers to obtain a cryptographic nonce, which is similar to
the value returned for Apple Pay within apps. The nonce, along with other
transaction data, is passed to the Secure Element to generate a payment
signature. When the payment signature comes out of the Secure Element,
it’s passed to the Apple Pay Servers. The authentication, integrity, and
correctness of the transaction is verified via the payment signature and
the nonce by Apple Pay Servers. Money transfer is then initiated and the
user is notified of transaction completion.
If the transaction involves a credit or debit card for:
• Adding money to Apple Pay Cash or
• Sending money to another user or
• Providing supplemental money if the Apple Pay Cash balance is
Then, in addition to the transfer signature described above, an encrypted
payment credential is also produced and sent to Apple Pay Servers—
which is similar to what is used for Apple Pay within apps and websites.
Once the balance of the Apple Pay Cash account exceeds a certain
amount, or if unusual activity is detected, the user will be prompted to
verify their identity. Information provided to verify the user’s identity, such
as social security number or answers to questions (e.g., confirm street
name you have previously lived on) is securely transmitted to Apple’s
partner and encrypted using their key. Apple cannot decrypt this data.
In Japan, users can add a Suica card to Apple Pay Wallet on supported
models of iPhone and Apple Watch. This can be done either by
transferring the value and commuter pass from a physical card into its
digital Wallet representation or by provisioning a new Suica into Wallet
from the Suica app. After Suica cards are added to Wallet, users can pay
in stores or ride transit with their anonymous Suica card, MySuica card,
or card that contains a commuter pass.
Added Suica cards are associated with a user’s iCloud account. If the
user adds more than one card to Wallet, Apple or the transit issuer
may be able to link the user’s personal information and the associated
account information between cards. For example, MySuica cards can
be linked to anonymous Suica cards. Suica cards and transactions are
protected by a set of hierarchical cryptographic keys.
During the process of transferring the balance from physical card to
Wallet, if the card is an anonymous Suica card, users are required to enter
the last four digits of the card’s serial number. If the card is a MySuica
card or a card that contains a commuter pass, users must also enter their
date of birth as proof of card possession. When transferring passes from
iPhone to Apple Watch, both devices must be online during transfer.
50iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
The balance can be recharged with funds from credit and prepaid cards
via Wallet or from the Suica app. The security of reloading the balance
when using Apple Pay, is described in the “Paying with Apple Pay within
apps” section of this paper.
The process of provisioning the Suica card from within the Suica app is
described in the “Adding credit or debit cards from a card issuer’s app”
section of this paper.
The transit issuer has the cryptographic keys needed to authenticate
to the physical card and verify user’s entered data. Once verified, the
system can create a Device Account Number for the Secure Element and
activate the newly added pass in Wallet with the transferred balance.
Once provisioning from plastic is complete, the physical card is disabled.
At the end of either type of provisioning, the Suica balance is encrypted
and stored to a designated applet in the Secure Element. The transit
operator has the keys to perform cryptographic operations on the card
data for balance transactions.
By default, users benefit from the seamless Express Transit experience
that allows them to pay and ride without requiring TouchID, FaceID, or
a passcode. Information like recently visited stations, transaction history,
and additional tickets may be accessed by any nearby contactless card
reader with ExpressMode enabled. Users can enable the TouchID,
FaceID, or passcode authorization requirement in the Wallet & Apple Pay
settings by disabling Express Transit.
As with other Apple Pay cards, users can suspend or remove Suica cards by:
• Erasing the device remotely with Find My iPhone
• Enabling Lost Mode with Find My iPhone
• MDM remote wipe operations
• Removing all cards from their Apple ID account page
• Removing all cards from iCloud.com
• Removing all cards from Wallet
Apple Pay Servers notify the transit operator to disable those Suica
cards. If their device is offline when they try to erase it, their Suica cards
might still be available for use at some terminals until 1201 AM JST the
If users remove their Suica cards, the balance is recoverable. They
can add them back to a device signed in with the same Apple ID after
500AM JST thefollowing day.
Suica cards can’t be suspended if your device is offline.
Suspending, removing, and erasing cards
Users can suspend Apple Pay on iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch running
watchOS 3 by placing their devices in Lost Mode using Find My iPhone.
Users also have the ability to remove and erase their cards from ApplePay
using Find My iPhone, iCloud.com, or directly on their devices using
Wallet. On Apple Watch, cards can be removed using iCloud settings, the
Apple Watch app on iPhone, or directly on the watch. The ability to make
payments using cards on the device will be suspended or removed from
Apple Pay by the card issuer orrespective payment network even if the
device is offline and not connected to a cellular or Wi-Fi network. Users
can also call their card issuer to suspend or remove cards from Apple Pay.
51iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Additionally, when a user erases the entire device using “Erase All
Content and Settings,” using Find My iPhone, or restoring their device
in recovery mode, iOS will instruct the Secure Element to mark all cards
as deleted. This has the effect of immediately changing the cards to
an unusable state until the Apple Pay Servers can be contacted to fully
erase the cards from the Secure Element. Independently, the Secure
Enclave marks the AR as invalid, so that further payment authorizations
for previously enrolled cards aren’t possible. When the device is online,
it attempts to contact the Apple Pay Servers to ensure all cards in the
Secure Element are erased.
52iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Apple has built a robust set of services to help users get even more utility
andproductivity out of their devices, including iMessage, FaceTime, Siri
Suggestions, iCloud, iCloud Backup, and iCloud Keychain.
These Internet services have been built with the same security goals
that iOS promotes throughout the platform. These goals include secure
handling of data, whether at rest on the device or in transit over wireless
networks; protection ofusers’ personal information; and threat protection
against malicious or unauthorized access to information and services.
Each service uses its own powerful security architecture without
compromising the overall ease of use ofiOS.
An AppleID is the account that is used to sign in to Apple services such
as iCloud, iMessage, FaceTime, the iTunes Store, the iBooks Store, the
App Store, and more. It is important for users to keep their AppleIDs
secure to prevent unauthorized access to their accounts. To help with this,
Apple requires strong passwords that must be at least eight characters
in length, contain both lettersand numbers, must not contain more than
three consecutive identical characters, and can’t be a commonly used
password. Users are encouraged to exceed these guidelines by adding
extra characters and punctuation marks to make their passwords even
stronger. Apple also requires users to set up three security questions that
can be used to help verify the owner’s identity when making changes to
their account information or resetting a forgotten password.
Apple also sends email and push notifications to users when important
changes are made to their account; for example, if a password or billing
information has been changed, or the AppleID has been used to sign in on
a new device. If anything looks unfamiliar, users are instructed to change
their AppleID password immediately.
In addition, Apple employs a variety of policies and procedures designed
to protect user accounts. These include limiting the number of retries
for sign-in and password reset attempts, active fraud monitoring to help
identify attacks asthey occur, and regular policy reviews that allow Apple
to adapt to any new information that could affect customer security.
To help users further secure their accounts, Apple offers two-factor
authentication—an extra layer of security for AppleIDs. It is designed
to ensure that only the account’s owner can access the account, even if
someone else knows the password.
With two-factor authentication, a user’s account can be accessed only on
trusted devices, such as the user’s iPhone, iPad, or Mac. To sign in for the
first time on any new device, two pieces of information are required—the
AppleID password and a six-digit verification code that’s automatically
displayed on the user’s trusted devices or sent to a trusted phone number.
By entering the code, the user verifies that they trust the new device and
Creating strong Apple ID
AppleIDs are used to connect to a
number of services including iCloud,
FaceTime, and iMessage. To help
users create strong passwords,
all new accounts must contain the
following password attributes:
• At least eight characters
• At least one letter
• At least one uppercase letter
• At least one number
• No more than three consecutive
• Not the same as the account name
53iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
that it’s safe to sign in. Because a password alone is no longer enough to
access a user’s account, two-factor authentication improves the security
of the user’s AppleID and allthe personal information they store with
Apple. It is integrated directly intoiOS, macOS, tvOS, watchOS, and the
authentication systems used by Apple’s websites.
For more information on two-factor authentication, go to:
Since 2013, Apple has also offered a similar security method called
two-step verification. With two-step verification enabled, the user’s
identity must be verified via a temporary code sent to one of the user’s
trusted devices before changes are permitted to their AppleID account
information; before signing in to iCloud, iMessage, FaceTime, or Game
Center; and before making an iTunes Store, iBooks Store, or App Store
purchase from a new device. Users are also provided with a 14-character
Recovery Key to be stored in a safe place in case they ever forget their
password or lose access to their trusted devices. While most new users
will be encouraged to use two-factor authentication, there are still some
situations where two-step verification is recommended instead.
For more information on two-step verification for AppleID, go to:
Managed Apple IDs
Managed AppleIDs function in a way similar to an AppleID, but are
owned and controlled by an educational institution. The institution can
reset passwords, limit purchasing and communications such as FaceTime
and Messages, and set up role-based permissions for staff members,
teachers, and students.
Some Apple services are disabled for Managed AppleIDs, such as
ApplePay, iCloud Keychain, HomeKit, and Find My iPhone.
For more information about Managed AppleIDs, go to:
Auditing Managed Apple IDs
Managed AppleIDs also support auditing, which allows institutions to
comply with legal and privacy regulations. Administrator, manager, or
teacher accounts can be granted auditing privileges for specific Managed
AppleIDs. Auditors canmonitor only accounts that are below them in
the school’s hierarchy. That is, teachers can monitor students; managers
can audit teachers and students; and administrators can audit managers,
teachers, and students.
When auditing credentials are requested using Apple School Manager, a
special account is issued that has access only to the Managed AppleID
for which auditing was requested. Auditing permission expires after seven
days. During that period, the auditor can read and modify the user’s
content stored in iCloud or CloudKit-enabled apps. Every request for
auditing access is logged in Apple School Manager. The logs show who
the auditor was, the Managed AppleID theauditor requested access to,
the time of the request, and if the auditing wasperformed.
54iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Managed Apple IDs and personal devices
Managed AppleIDs can also be used with personally owned iOS
devices and Mac computers. Students sign in to iCloud using the
Managed AppleID issued by the institution and an additional home-use
password that serves as the second factor of the AppleID two-factor
authentication process. While using aManaged AppleID on a personal
device, iCloud Keychain isn’t available, and theinstitution might restrict
other features such as FaceTime or Messages. Any iCloud documents
created by students when they are signed in are subject to audit as
described previously in this section.
Apple iMessage is a messaging service for iOS devices, Apple Watch,
and Mac computers. iMessage supports text and attachments such as
photos, contacts, and locations. Messages appear on all of a user’s
registered devices so that a conversation can be continued from any of
the user’s devices. iMessage makes extensive use of the Apple Push
Notification service (APNs). Apple doesn’t log the contents of messages or
attachments, which are protected by end-to-end encryption so no one but
the sender and receiver can access them. Apple can’t decrypt the data.
When a user turns on iMessage on a device, the device generates two
pairs of keys for use with the service: an RSA 1280-bit key for encryption
and an ECDSA 256-bit key on the NIST P-256 curve for signing. The
private keys for both key pairs are saved in the device’s Keychain and
thepublic keys are sent to Apple’s directory service (IDS), where they
areassociated with the user’s phone number or email address, along
withthe device’s APNs address.
As users enable additional devices for use with iMessage, their
encryption and signing public keys, APNs addresses, and associated
phone numbers are added to the directory service. Users can also add
more email addresses, which are verified by sending a confirmation
link. Phone numbers are verified by the carrier network and SIM. With
some networks, this requires using SMS (the userwill be presented
with a confirmation dialog if the SMS is not zero rated). Phone number
verification may be required for several system services in addition to
iMessage, such as FaceTime and iCloud. All of the user’s registered
devices display an alert message when a new device, phone number,
or email address is added.
How iMessage sends and receives messages
Users start a new iMessage conversation by entering an address or
name. If they enter a phone number or email address, the device
contacts the IDS to retrieve the public keys and APNs addresses for all of
the devices associated with the addressee. If the user enters a name, the
device first utilizes the user’s Contacts app to gather the phone numbers
and email addresses associated with that name, then gets the public keys
and APNs addresses from the IDS.
The user’s outgoing message is individually encrypted for each of the
receiver’s devices. The public RSA encryption keys of the receiving
devices are retrieved from IDS. For each receiving device, the sending
device generates a random 88-bit value and uses it as an HMAC-SHA256
key to construct a 40-bit valuederived from the sender and receiver
55iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
public key and the plaintext. The concatenation of the 88-bit and 40-bit
values makes a 128-bit key, which encrypts the message with it using
AES in CTR mode. The 40-bit value is usedby the receiver side to verify
the integrity of the decrypted plaintext. Thisper-message AES key is
encrypted using RSA-OAEP to the public key of the receiving device. The
combination of the encrypted message text and the encrypted message
key is then hashed with SHA-1, and the hash is signed with ECDSA using
the sending device’s private signing key. The resulting messages, one
for each receiving device, consist of the encrypted message text, the
encrypted message key, and the sender’s digital signature. They are then
dispatched to the APNs for delivery. Metadata, such as the timestamp
and APNs routing information, isn’t encrypted. Communication with APNs
is encrypted using a forward-secret TLS channel.
APNs can only relay messages up to 4KB or 16KB in size, depending on
iOS version. If the message text is too long, or if an attachment such as
a photo is included, the attachment is encrypted using AES in CTR mode
with a randomly generated 256-bit key and uploaded to iCloud. The
AES key for the attachment, its URI (Uniform Resource Identifier), and a
SHA-1 hash of its encrypted form are then sent to the recipient as the
contents of an iMessage, with their confidentiality and integrity protected
through normal iMessage encryption, asshown in the following diagram.
and APNs token
for user 2
and APNs token
for user 1
Signed and encrypted
message for user 2 with URI and
key for attachment
For group conversations, this process is repeated for each recipient and their devices.
On the receiving side, each device receives its copy of the message
from APNs, and, if necessary, retrieves the attachment from iCloud. The
incoming phone number or email address of the sender is matched to the
receiver’s contacts so that a name can be displayed when possible.
As with all push notifications, the message is deleted from APNs when
it is delivered. Unlike other APNs notifications, however, iMessage
messages are queued for delivery to offline devices. Messages are
currently stored for up to 30 days.
56iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
FaceTime is Apple’s video and audio calling service. Similar to iMessage,
FaceTime calls also use the Apple Push Notification service to establish
an initialconnection to the user’s registered devices. The audio/video
contents ofFaceTime calls are protected by end-to-end encryption, so
no one but the sender and receiver can access them. Apple can’t decrypt
The initial FaceTime connection is made through Apple server
infrastructure thatrelays data packets between the users’ registered
devices. Using APNs notifications and Session Traversal Utilities for NAT
(STUN) messages over the relayed connection, the devices verify their
identity certificates and establish ashared secret for each session. The
shared secret is used to derive session keysfor media channels streamed
via the Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP). SRTP packets are
encrypted using AES-256 in Counter Mode and HMAC-SHA1. Subsequent
to the initial connection and security setup, FaceTime uses STUN and
Internet Connectivity Establishment (ICE) to establish a peer-to-peer
connection between devices, if possible.
iCloud stores a user’s contacts, calendars, photos, documents, and
more andkeeps the information up to date across all of their devices,
automatically. iCloud can also beused by third-party apps to store
and sync documents aswell as key values for app data as defined by
the developer. Users set up iCloudby signing in with an AppleID and
choosing which services they would like to use. iCloud features, including
My Photo Stream, iCloud Drive, and iCloud Backup, can be disabled by
IT administrators via MDM configuration profiles. Theservice is agnostic
about what is being stored and handles all file content the same way,
as a collection of bytes.
Each file is broken into chunks and encrypted by iCloud using AES-128
and akey derived from each chunk’s contents that utilizes SHA-256.
The keys andthe file’s metadata are stored by Apple in the user’s
iCloud account. Theencrypted chunks of the file are stored, without
any user-identifying information, using third-party storage services,
such as S3 and Google CloudPlatform.
iCloud Drive adds account-based keys to protect documents stored
in iCloud. As with existing iCloud services, it chunks and encrypts file
contents and stores the encrypted chunks using third-party services.
However, the file content keys are wrapped by record keys stored with
the iCloud Drive metadata. These record keys are in turn protected by
the user’s iCloud Drive service key, which isthen stored with the user’s
iCloud account. Users get access to their iCloud documents metadata by
having authenticated with iCloud, but must also possess the iCloud Drive
service key to expose protected parts of iCloud Drive storage.
57iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
CloudKit allows app developers to store key-value data, structured
data, and assets in iCloud. Access to CloudKit is controlled using app
entitlements. CloudKit supports both public and private databases.
Public databases are used by all copies of the app, typically for general
assets, and aren’t encrypted. Private databases store the user’s data.
As with iCloud Drive, CloudKit uses account-based keys to protect the
information stored in the user’s private database and, similar to other
iCloud services, files are chunked, encrypted, and stored using third-
party services. CloudKit utilizes a hierarchy of keys, similar to Data
Protection. The per-file keys are wrapped by CloudKit Record keys.
The Record keys, in turn, are protected by a zone-wide key, which is
protected by the user’s CloudKit Service key. The CloudKit Service key
is stored in the user’s iCloud account and is available only after the user
has authenticated with iCloud.
CloudKit end-to-end encryption
Apple Pay Cash, User keywords, Siri Intelligence, and Hey Siri use
CloudKit end-to-end encryption with a CloudKit service key protected
by iCloud Keychain syncing. For these CloudKit containers, the key
hierarchy is rooted in iCloud Keychain and therefore shares the security
characteristics of iCloud Keychain—the keys are available only on the
user’s trusted devices, and not to Apple or anythird party. If access
to iCloud Keychain data is lost (see “Escrow security” section later in
paper), the data in CloudKit is reset, and if data is available from the
trusted local device it is re-uploaded to CloudKit.
iCloud also backs up information—including device settings, app
data, photos, and videos in the Camera Roll, and conversations in
the Messages app—daily over Wi-Fi. iCloud secures the content by
encrypting it when sent overtheInternet, storing it in an encrypted
format, and using secure tokens forauthentication. iCloud Backup occurs
only when the device is locked, connected to a power source, and has
Wi-Fi access to the Internet. Because of the encryption used in iOS,
the system is designed to keep data secure while allowing incremental,
unattended backup and restoration to occur.
58iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Here’s what iCloud backs up:
• Records for purchased music, movies, TV shows, apps, and books.
A user’s iCloud backup includes information about purchased
content present on theuser’s iOS device, but not the purchased
content itself. When the user restores from an iCloud backup, their
purchased content is automatically downloaded from the iTunes Store,
iBooksStore, or App Store. Some types ofcontent aren’t downloaded
automatically in all countries or regions, and previous purchases may
be unavailable if they have been refunded or are no longer available in
the store. Full purchase history is associated with a user’s AppleID.
• Photos and videos on a user’s iOS devices. Note that if a user turns
on iCloud Photo Library on their iOS device (iOS8.1 or later) or Mac
(OSX 10.10.3 or later), their photos and videos are already stored in
iCloud, so they aren’t included in the user’s iCloud backup.
• Contacts, calendar events, reminders, and notes
• Device settings
• App data
• Call history and ringtones
• Home screen and app organization
• HomeKit configuration
• HealthKit data
• iMessage, text (SMS), and MMS messages (requires the SIM card that
was inuse during backup)
• Visual Voicemail password (requires the SIM card that was in use
When files are created in Data Protection classes that aren’t accessible
when the device is locked, their per-file keys are encrypted using the
class keys fromthe iCloud Backup keybag. Files are backed up to
iCloudin their original, encrypted state. Files in Data Protection class
NoProtection are encrypted during transport.
The iCloud Backup keybag contains asymmetric (Curve25519) keys for
each Data Protection class, which are used to encrypt the per-file keys.
For more information about the contents of the backup keybag and the
iCloud Backup keybag, see “Keychain Data Protection” in the Encryption
and Data Protection section of this paper.
The backup set is stored in the user’s iCloud account and consists of
a copy of the user’s files, and the iCloud Backup keybag. The iCloud
Backup keybag is protected by a random key, which is also stored with
the backup set. (The user’s iCloud password isn’t utilized for encryption
so changing the iCloud password won’t invalidate existing backups.)
While the user’s Keychain database is backed up to iCloud, it remains
protected by a UID-tangled key. This allows the Keychain to be restored
only to the same device from which it originated, and it means no one
else, including Apple, can read the user’s Keychain items.
On restore, the backed-up files, iCloud Backup keybag, and the key for
the keybag are retrieved from the user’s iCloud account. The iCloud
Backup keybag is decrypted using its key, then the per-file keys in the
keybag are used to decrypt the files in the backup set, which are written
as new files to the file system, thus re-encrypting them as per their Data
59iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
iCloud Keychain allows users to securely sync their passwords between
iOS devices and Mac computers without exposing that information to
Apple. In addition to strong privacy and security, other goals that heavily
influenced the design and architecture of iCloud Keychain were ease of
use and the ability to recover a Keychain. iCloud Keychain consists of two
services: Keychain syncing and Keychain recovery.
Apple designed iCloud Keychain and Keychain recovery so that a user’s
passwords are still protected under the following conditions:
• A user’s iCloud account is compromised.
• iCloud is compromised by an external attacker or employee.
• A third party accesses user accounts.
When a user enables iCloud Keychain for the first time, the device
establishes acircle of trust and creates a syncing identity for itself.
The syncing identity consists of a private key and a public key. The
public key of the syncing identity is put in the circle, and the circle is
signed twice: first by the private key of the syncing identity, then again
with an asymmetric elliptical key (using P-256) derived from the user’s
iCloud account password. Also stored with the circle are the parameters
(random salt and iterations) used to create the key that is based on the
user’s iCloud password.
The signed syncing circle is placed in the user’s iCloud key value storage
area. Itcan’t be read without knowing the user’s iCloud password, and
can’t be modified validly without having the private key of the syncing
identity of its member.
When the user turns on iCloud Keychain on another device, it notices
that the user has a previously established syncing circle in iCloud that it
isn’t a member of. The device creates its syncing identity key pair, then
creates an application ticket to request membership in the circle. The
ticket consists of the device’s public key of its syncing identity, and the
user is asked to authenticate with their iCloud password. The elliptical
key generation parameters are retrieved from iCloud and generate a key
that is used to sign the application ticket. Finally, the application ticket is
placed in iCloud.
When the first device sees that an application ticket has arrived, it
displays anotice for the user to acknowledge that a new device is asking
to join the syncing circle. The user enters their iCloud password, and the
application ticket is verified as signed by a matching private key. This
establishes that the person who generated the request to join the circle
entered the user’s iCloud password at the time the request was made.
Upon the user’s approval to add the new device to the circle, the first
device adds the public key of the new member to the syncing circle,
signs it again with both its syncing identity and the key derived from
the user’s iCloud password. The new syncing circle is placed in iCloud,
where it is similarly signed by the new member of the circle.
There are now two members of the signing circle, and each member
has the public key of its peer. They now begin to exchange individual
Keychain items via iCloud key value storage or store them in CloudKit
as appropriate. If both circle members have the same item, the one with
the most recent modification date will be synced. Items are skipped if
Safari integration with iCloud
Safari can automatically generate
cryptographically strong random
strings for website passwords,
which are stored in Keychain and
synced to other devices. Keychain
items are transferred from device
to device, traveling through Apple
servers, but are encrypted in such
a way that Apple and other devices
can’t read their contents.
60iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
the other member has the item and the modification dates are identical.
Each item that’s synced is encrypted so it can be decrypted only by a
device within the user’s circle of trust. It can’t be decrypted by any other
devices or Apple.
This process is repeated as new devices join the syncing circle. For
example, when a third device joins, the confirmation appears on both of
the other user’s devices. The user can approve the new member from
either of those devices. As new peers are added, each peer syncs with
the new one to ensure that all members have the same Keychain items.
However, the entire Keychain isn’t synced. Some items are device-
specific, such as VPN identities, and shouldn’t leave the device.
Only items with the attribute kSecAttrSynchronizable are synced.
Apple has set this attribute for Safari user data (including user names,
passwords, and credit card numbers), as well as Wi-Fi passwords and
HomeKit encryption keys.
Additionally, by default, Keychain items added by third-party apps don’t
sync. Developers must set the kSecAttrSynchronizable when adding
items to the Keychain.
Keychain recovery provides a way for users to optionally escrow their
Keychain with Apple, without allowing Apple to read the passwords and
other data it contains. Even if the user has only a single device, Keychain
recovery provides asafety net against data loss. This is particularly
important when Safari is used to generate random, strong passwords for
web accounts, as the only record of those passwords is in the Keychain.
A cornerstone of Keychain recovery is secondary authentication and
a secure escrow service, created by Apple specifically to support this
feature. The user’s Keychain is encrypted using a strong passcode, and
the escrow service will provide a copy of the Keychain only if a strict set
of conditions are met.
When iCloud Keychain is turned on, if two-factor authentication is enabled
for the user’s account, the device passcode will be used to recover an
escrowed Keychain. If two-factor authentication isn’t set up, the user is
asked to create an iCloud Security Code by providing a six-digit passcode.
Alternatively, without two-factor authentication, users can specify their
own longer code, or let their devices create a cryptographically random
code that they can record and keep on their own.
Next, the iOS device exports a copy of the user’s Keychain, encrypts it
wrapped with keys in an asymmetric keybag, and places it in the user’s
iCloud key value storage area. The keybag is wrapped with the user’s
iCloud Security Code and the public key of thehardware security module
(HSM) cluster that will store the escrow record. This becomes the user’s
iCloud Escrow Record.
If the user decides to accept a cryptographically random security code,
insteadof specifying their own or using a four-digit value, no escrow
record isnecessary. Instead, the iCloud Security Code is used to wrap
the random keydirectly.
In addition to establishing a security code, users must register a phone
number. This provides a secondary level of authentication during
Keychain recovery. Theuser will receive an SMS that must be replied
to in order for the recovery toproceed.
61iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
iCloud provides a secure infrastructure for Keychain escrow that
ensures only authorized users and devices can perform a recovery.
Topographically positioned behind iCloud are HSM clusters that guard
the escrow records. Eachhas a key that is used to encrypt the escrow
records under their watch, asdescribed previously in this paper.
To recover a Keychain, users must authenticate with their iCloud account
and password and respond to an SMS sent to their registered phone
number. Once this is done, users must enter their iCloud Security Code.
The HSM cluster verifies that a user knows their iCloud Security Code
using the Secure Remote Password (SRP) protocol; the code itself isn’t
sent to Apple. Each member of the cluster independently verifies that
the user hasn’t exceeded the maximum number of attempts allowed to
retrieve their record, as discussed below. If a majority agree, the cluster
unwraps the escrow record and sends it to the user’sdevice.
Next, the device uses the iCloud Security Code to unwrap the random
key used to encrypt the user’s Keychain. With that key, the Keychain—
retrieved from iCloud key value storage—is decrypted and restored onto
the device. Only 10 attempts to authenticate and retrieve an escrow
record are allowed. After several failed attempts, the record is locked and
the user must call Apple Support to be granted more attempts. After the
10th failed attempt, the HSMcluster destroys the escrow record and the
Keychain is lost forever. Thisprovides protection against a brute-force
attempt to retrieve the record, attheexpense of sacrificing the Keychain
data in response.
These policies are coded in the HSM firmware. The administrative access
cards that permit the firmware to be changed have been destroyed. Any
attempt to alter the firmware or access the private key will cause the
HSM cluster to delete the private key. Should this occur, the owner of
each Keychain protected by the cluster will receive a message informing
them that their escrow record has been lost. They can then choose to
By simply talking naturally, users can enlist Siri to send messages,
schedule meetings, place phone calls, and more. Siri uses speech
recognition, text-to-speech, and a client-server model to respond to a
broad range of requests. The tasks that Siri supports have been designed
to ensure that only the absolute minimal amount of personal information
is utilized and that it is fully protected.
When Siri is turned on, the device creates random identifiers for use with
the voice recognition and Siri servers. These identifiers are used only
within Siri and are utilized to improve the service. If Siri is subsequently
turned off, the device will generate a new random identifier to be used if
Siri is turned back on.
To facilitate Siri features, some of the user’s information from the device
is sent to the server. This includes information about the music library
(song titles, artists, and playlists), the names of Reminders lists, and
names and relationships that are defined in Contacts. All communication
with the server is over HTTPS.
62iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
When a Siri session is initiated, the user’s first and last name (from
Contacts), along with a rough geographic location, are sent to the server.
This allows Siri torespond with the name or answer questions that need
only an approximate location, such as those about the weather.
If a more precise location is necessary—such as determining the location
of nearby movie theaters—the server asks the device to provide a more
exact location. This is an example of how, by default, information is sent
to the server only when it’s strictly necessary to process the user’s
request. In any event, session information is discarded after 10 minutes
When Siri is used from Apple Watch, the watch creates its own random
unique identifier, as described previously. However, instead of sending
the user’s information again, its requests also send the Siri identifier of
the paired iPhone toprovide a reference to that information.
The recording of the user’s spoken words is sent to Apple’s voice
recognition server. If the task involves dictation only, the recognized
text is sent back to thedevice. Otherwise, Siri analyzes the text and,
if necessary, combines it with information from the profile associated
with the device. For example, if the request is “send a message to my
mom,” the relationships and names that were uploaded from Contacts
areutilized. The command for the identified action is then sent back to
the device to be carried out.
Many Siri functions are accomplished by the device under the direction
of the server. For example, if the user asks Siri to read an incoming
message, the server simply tells the device to speak the contents of its
unread messages. Thecontents and sender of the message aren’t sent
to the server.
User voice recordings are saved for a six-month period so that the
recognition system can utilize them to better understand the user’s
voice. After six months, another copy is saved, without its identifier, for
use by Apple in improving and developing Siri for up to two years. A small
subset of recordings, transcripts, and associated data without identifiers
may continue to be used by Apple forongoing improvement and quality
assurance of Siri beyond two years. Additionally, some recordings that
reference music, sports teams and players, and businesses or points of
interest are similarly saved for purposes of improving Siri.
Siri can also be invoked hands-free via voice activation. The voice
trigger detection is performed locally on the device. In this mode, Siri is
activated only when the incoming audio pattern sufficiently matches the
acoustics of the specified trigger phrase. When the trigger is detected,
the corresponding audio including the subsequent Siri command is sent
to Apple’s voice recognition server for further processing, which follows
the same rules as other user voice recordings made through Siri.
63iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Continuity takes advantage of technologies like iCloud, Bluetooth, and
Wi-Fi toenable users to continue an activity from one device to another;
make and receive phone calls; send and receive text messages; and
share a cellular Internet connection.
With Handoff, when a user’s Mac and iOS devices are near each other,
the user can automatically pass whatever they’re working on from one
device to the other. Handoff lets the user switch devices and instantly
When a user signs in to iCloud on a second Handoff capable device, the
two devices establish a Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0 pairing out-of-band
using APNs. The individual messages are encrypted in a similar fashion
to iMessage. Once the devices are paired, each will generate a symmetric
256-bit AES key that gets stored in the device’s Keychain. This key can
encrypt and authenticate theBluetooth Low Energy advertisements
that communicate the device’s current activity to other iCloud paired
devices using AES-256 in GCM mode, with replay protection measures.
The first time a device receives an advertisement from a new key, it will
establish a Bluetooth Low Energy connection to the originating device
and perform an advertisement encryption key exchange. This connection
is secured using standard Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0 encryption as well as
encryption of the individual messages, which is similar to how iMessage
is encrypted. In some situations, these messages will go via APNs
instead of Bluetooth Low Energy. The activity payload is protected and
transferred in the same way as an iMessage.
Handoff between native apps and websites
Handoff allows an iOS native app to resume web pages in domains
legitimately controlled by the app developer. It also allows the native app
user activity to be resumed in a web browser.
To prevent native apps from claiming to resume websites not controlled by
the developer, the app must demonstrate legitimate control over the web
domains itwants to resume. Control over a website domain is established
via the mechanism for shared web credentials. For details, refer to “Access
to Safari saved passwords” in the Encryption and Data Protection section
of this paper. The system must validate an app’s domain name control
before the app is permitted to accept user activity Handoff.
The source of a web page Handoff can be any browser that has
adopted the Handoff APIs. When the user views a web page, the system
advertises the domain name of the web page in the encrypted Handoff
advertisement bytes. Only the user’s other devices can decrypt the
advertisement bytes (as described earlier in this section).
On a receiving device, the system detects that an installed native app
accepts Handoff from the advertised domain name and displays that
native app icon as the Handoff option. When launched, the native app
receives the full URL and the title of the web page. No other information
is passed from the browser to thenative app.
In the opposite direction, a native app may specify a fallback URL when
a Handoff receiving device doesn’t have the same native app installed. In
this case, the system displays the user’s default browser as the Handoff
app option (if that browser has adopted Handoff APIs). When Handoff
64iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
is requested, the browser will be launched and given the fallback URL
provided by the source app. There is no requirement that the fallback
URL be limited to domain names controlled by the native app developer.
Handoff of larger data
In addition to the basic feature of Handoff, some apps may elect to use
APIs that support sending larger amounts of data over Apple-created
peer-to-peer Wi-Fi technology (in a similar fashion to AirDrop). For
example, the Mail app uses these APIs to support Handoff of a mail draft,
which may include large attachments.
When an app uses this facility, the exchange between the two devices
starts off just as in Handoff (see previous sections). However, after
receiving the initial payload using Bluetooth Low Energy, the receiving
device initiates a new connection over Wi-Fi. This connection is
encrypted (TLS), which exchanges their iCloud identity certificates.
The identity in the certificates is verified against the user’s identity.
Further payload data is sent over this encrypted connection until the
Universal Clipboard leverages Handoff to securely transfer the content
of a user’s clipboard across devices so they can copy on one device and
paste on another. Content is protected the same way as other Handoff
data and shared by default with Universal Clipboard, unless the app
developer chooses to disallow sharing.
Apps have access to clipboard data regardless of whether the user
has pasted the clipboard into the app. With Universal Clipboard, this
data access extends to apps running on the user’s other devices (as
established by their iCloud sign-in).
Mac computers that support Auto Unlock use Bluetooth Low Energy and
peer-to-peer Wi-Fi to securely allow the user’s Apple Watch to unlock
their Mac. Each capable Mac and Apple Watch associated with an iCloud
account must use two-factor authorization (TFA).
When enabling an Apple Watch to unlock a Mac, a secure link using
Auto Unlock Identities is established. The Mac creates a random one-
time-use unlock secret and transmits it to the Apple Watch over the link.
The secret isstored on Apple Watch and can only be accessed when
Apple Watch is unlocked (see “Data Protection classes” section). Neither
the master entropy nor the new secret is the user’s password.
During an unlock operation, the Mac uses Bluetooth Low Energy to
create a connection to the Apple Watch. A secure link is then established
between the two devices using the shared keys used when it was first
enabled. The Mac and Apple Watch then use peer-to-peer Wi-Fi and
a secure key derived from the secure link to determine the distance
between the two devices. If the devices are within range, the secure link
is then used to transfer the pre-shared secret to unlock the Mac. After
successful unlock, the Mac replaces the current unlock secret with a new
one-time use unlock secret and transmits the new unlock secret to the
Apple Watch over the link.
65iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
iPhone Cellular Call Relay
When a user’s Mac, iPad, or iPod touch is on the same Wi-Fi network
as their iPhone, it can make and receive phone calls using the cellular
connection on iPhone. Configuration requires the devices to be signed in
to both iCloud and FaceTime using the same AppleID account.
When an incoming call arrives, all configured devices will be notified
via the Apple Push Notification service, with each notification using the
same end-to-end encryption as iMessage. Devices that are on the same
network will present the incoming call notification UI. Upon answering the
call, the audio is seamlessly transmitted from the user’s iPhone using a
secure peer-to-peer connection between the two devices.
When a call is answered on one device, ringing of nearby iCloud-paired
devicesis terminated by briefly advertising via Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0.
Theadvertising bytes are encrypted using the same method as Handoff
Outgoing calls are also relayed to iPhone via the Apple Push Notification
service, and audio will be similarly transmitted over the secure peer-to-
peer link between devices.
Users can disable phone call relay on a device by turning off iPhone
Cellular Calls in FaceTime settings.
iPhone Text Message Forwarding
Text Message Forwarding automatically sends SMS text messages
received on an iPhone to a user’s enrolled iPad, iPod touch, or Mac.
Each device must be signed in to the iMessage service using the
same AppleID account. When Text Message Forwarding is turned on,
enrollment is automatic on devices within auser’s circle of trust if two-
factor authentication is enabled. Otherwise, enrollment is verified on each
device by entering a random six-digit numeric code generated by iPhone.
Once devices are linked, iPhone encrypts and forwards incoming SMS
text messages to each device, utilizing the methods described in the
iMessage section of this paper. Replies are sent back to iPhone using the
same method, then iPhone sends the reply as a text message using the
carrier’s SMS transmission mechanism. Text Message Forwarding can be
turned on or off inMessages settings.
iOS devices that support Instant Hotspot use Bluetooth Low Energy to
discover and communicate to devices that have signed in to the same
iCloud account. Compatible Mac computers running OSX Yosemite or
later use the same technology to discover and communicate with Instant
Hotspot iOS devices.
When a user enters Wi-Fi Settings on the iOS device, the device emits
a Bluetooth Low Energy signal containing an identifier that all devices
signed in tothe same iCloud account agree upon. The identifier is
generated from a DSID(Destination Signaling Identifier) tied to the
iCloud account, and rotated periodically. When other devices signed in
to the same iCloud account are in close proximity and support Personal
Hotspot, they detect the signal and respond, indicating availability.
When a user chooses a device available for Personal Hotspot, a request
to turn on Personal Hotspot is sent to that device. The request is sent
across a link that is encrypted using standard Bluetooth Low Energy
encryption, and the request is encrypted in a fashion similar to iMessage
66iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
encryption. The device then responds across the same Bluetooth Low
Energy link using the same per-message encryption with Personal
Hotspot connection information.
Safari Suggestions, Siri Suggestions in Search,
Lookup, #images, News App, and News Widget in
Safari Suggestions, Siri Suggestions in Search, Lookup, #images,
Newsapp, and News widget in non-News countries show users
suggestions that go beyond their devices, from sources like Wikipedia,
the iTunesStore, local News, Maps results, and the App Store—and even
offer suggestions before a user begins typing.
When a user starts typing in the Safari address bar, opens or uses Siri
Suggestions in Search, uses Lookup, opens #images, uses Search in the
News app, or uses the News widget in non-News countries, the following
context is sent encrypted using HTTPS to Apple to provide the user with
• An identifier that rotates every 15 minutes to preserve privacy
• User’s search query
• The most likely query completion based on context and locally cached
• The approximate location of their device, if they have Location Services
for Location-Based Suggestions turned on. The level of location
“blurring” is based on estimated population density at the device’s
location; for instance, more blurring in a rural location where users may
be geographically more separated versus less blurring in a city center
where users will typically be closer together. Users can disable the
sending of all location information toApple in Settings, by turning off
Location Services for Location-Based Suggestions. If Location Services
is turned off, then Apple may use the device’s IP address to infer an
• The type of device and whether the search is made in Siri Suggestions
in Search, Safari, Lookup, News App, or Messages
• The type of connection
• Information on the three apps most recently used on the device (for
additional search context). Only apps that are in an Apple-maintained
allow list of popular apps and have been accessed within the last
3hours are included.
• A list of popular applications on the device
• Regional language, locale, and input preferences
• If the user’s device can access music or video subscription services,
then information such as names of the subscription services and types
of subscriptions may be sent to Apple. The user’s account name,
number, andpassword aren’t sent to Apple.
• Summarized, aggregated representation of topics of interests
67iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
When a user selects a result or exits the app with no result selected,
some information is sent to Apple to help improve the quality of future
results. This information is tied only to the same 15-minute session
identifier and not tied toa particular user. The feedback includes some
of the previously described context information as well as interaction
information such as:
• Timings between interactions and search network requests
• Ranking and display order of suggestions
• The ID of the result and action selected if result is non-local, or the
category of the result selected if it is local
• A flag indicating whether the user selected the result
Apple retains Suggestions logs with queries, context, and feedback for
18months. A subset of logs are retained for up to five years; for example
queries, locale, domain, approximate location, and aggregate metrics.
In some cases, Suggestions may forward queries for common words
and phrases to a qualified partner, in order to receive and display the
partner’s search results. Apple proxies the queries so that partners don’t
receive user IPaddresses or search feedback. Communication with the
partner is encrypted viaHTTPS. For queries that occur frequently, Apple
provides city-level location, device type, and client language as search
context to the partner to improve search performance. In iOS 11, Siri
Suggestions in Search queries aren’t sent topartners.
To understand and improve Suggestions performance geographically and
across different types of networks, the following information is logged
without asession identifier:
• Partial IP address (without the last octet for IPv4 addresses; without
the last 80 bits for IPv6 addresses)
• Approximate location
• Approximate time of the query
• Latency/transfer rate
• Response size
• Connection type
• Device type and requesting app
68iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
iOS supports flexible security policies and configurations that are easy
toenforce and manage. This enables organizations to protect corporate
information and ensure that employees meet enterprise requirements,
even ifthey are using devices they’ve provided themselves—for example,
as part ofa“bring your own device” (BYOD) program.
Organizations can use resources such as passcode protection,
configuration profiles, remote wipe, and third-party MDM solutions to
manage fleets of devices and help keep corporate data secure, even
when employees access thisdata on their personal iOS devices.
By default, the user’s passcode can be defined as a numeric PIN. On
devices with TouchID or FaceID, the minimum passcode length is
six digits. On otherdevices, the minimum length is four digits. Users
can specify a longer alphanumeric passcode by selecting Custom
Alphanumeric Code in the Passcode Options in Settings > Passcode.
Longer and more complex passcodes are harder to guess or attack, and
Administrators can enforce complex passcode requirements and other
policies using MDM or Exchange ActiveSync, or by requiring users to
manually install configuration profiles. The following passcode policies
• Allow simple value
• Require alphanumeric value
• Minimum passcode length
• Minimum number of complex characters
• Maximum passcode age
• Passcode history
• Auto-lock timeout
• Grace period for device lock
• Maximum number of failed attempts
• Allow TouchID or FaceID
For administrator details about each policy, go to:
For developer details about each policy, go to:
69iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
iOS pairing model
iOS uses a pairing model to control access to a device from a host
computer. Pairing establishes a trust relationship between the device and
its connected host, signified by public key exchange. iOS uses this sign
of trust to enable additional functionality with the connected host, such
as data synchronization.
In iOS 9, services that require pairing can’t be started until after the
device has been unlocked by the user.
Additionally in iOS 10, some services, including photo syncing, require
the device to be unlocked to begin.
Beginning in iOS 11, services won’t start unless the device has been
The pairing process requires the user to unlock the device and accept
the pairing request from the host. Starting in iOS 11, the user is also
required to enter their passcode. After the user has done this, the host
and device exchange and save 2048-bit RSA public keys. The host is
then given a 256-bit key that can unlock an escrow keybag stored on the
device (refer to “Escrow keybag” within the “Keybags” section of this
paper). The exchanged keys are used to start an encrypted SSL session,
which the device requires before it will send protected data to the host
or start a service (iTunes syncing, file transfers, Xcode development,
etc.). The device requires connections from a host over Wi-Fi to use this
encrypted session for all communication, so it must have been previously
paired over USB. Pairing also enables several diagnostic capabilities. In
iOS 9, if a pairing record hasn’t been used for more than six months, it
expires. This timeframe is shortened to 30 days in iOS 11.
For more information, go to:
Certain services, including com.apple.pcapd, are restricted to work only
over USB. Additionally, the com.apple.file_relay service requires an Apple-
signed configuration profile to be installed.
In iOS 11, Apple TV can to use the Secure Remote Password protocol to
wirelessly establish a pairing relationship.
A user can clear the list of trusted hosts with the “Reset Network
Settings” or “Reset Location & Privacy” options.
For more information, go to:
A configuration profile is an XML file that allows an administrator to
distribute configuration information to iOS devices. Settings that are
defined by an installed configuration profile can’t be changed by the
user. If the user deletes aconfiguration profile, all the settings defined by
the profile are also removed. Inthis manner, administrators can enforce
settings by tying policies to Wi-Fi anddata access. For example, a
70iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
configuration profile that provides an email configuration can also specify
a device passcode policy. Users won’t be able to access mail unless their
passcode meets the administrator’s requirements.
An iOS configuration profile contains a number of settings that can be
• Passcode policies
• Restrictions on device features (disabling the camera, for example)
• Wi-Fi settings
• VPN settings
• Mail server settings
• Exchange settings
• LDAP directory service settings
• CalDAV calendar service settings
• Web clips
• Credentials and keys
• Advanced cellular network settings
To view a current list for administrators, go to:
To view a current list for developers, go to:
Configuration profiles can be signed and encrypted to validate their
origin, ensure their integrity, and protect their contents. Configuration
profiles are encrypted using CMS (RFC 3852), supporting 3DES and
Configuration profiles can also be locked to a device to completely
prevent their removal, or to allow removal only with a passcode. Since
many enterprise users own their iOS devices, configuration profiles that
bind a device to an MDM solution can be removed—but doing so also
removes all managed configuration information, data, and apps.
Users can install configuration profiles directly on their devices using
Apple Configurator2, or they can be downloaded via Safari, sent via
a mail message, or sent over the air using an MDM solution. When a
user sets up a device in the Device Enrollment Program or Apple School
Manager, the device downloads and installs a profile for MDM enrollment.
Mobile device management (MDM)
iOS support for MDM allows businesses to securely configure and
manage scaled iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Mac deployments across
their organizations. MDM capabilities are built on existing iOS
technologies such as configuration profiles, over-the-air enrollment,
and the Apple Push Notification service. For example, APNs is used to
wake the device so it can communicate directly with its MDM solution
over a secured connection. No confidential or proprietary information
is transmitted via APNs.
71iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Using MDM, IT departments can enroll iOS devices in an enterprise
environment, wirelessly configure and update settings, monitor
compliance withcorporate policies, and even remotely wipe or lock
For more information on MDM, go to:
Shared iPad is a multi-user mode for use in educational iPad deployments.
It allows students to share an iPad without sharing documents and data.
Each student gets their own home directory, which is created as an APFS
volume protected by the user’s credential. Shared iPad requires the use of
a Managed AppleID that is issued and owned by the school. Shared iPad
enables a student to sign in to any organizationally owned device that is
configured for use by multiple students.
Student data is partitioned into separate home directories, each in their
owndata protection domains and protected by both UNIX permissions
and sandboxing. When a student signs in, the Managed AppleID is
authenticated with Apple’s identity servers using the SRP protocol. If
successful, a short-lived access token specific to the device is granted.
If the student has used the device before, they already have a local user
account that is unlocked using thesame credential. If the student hasn’t
used the device before, a new UNIX userID, an APFS volume with the
user’s home directory, and a logical Keychain are provisioned. If the
device isn’t connected to the Internet (say, because the student is on a
field trip), authentication can occur against the local account for a limited
number of days. In that situation, only users with previously existing
local accounts can sign in. Once the time limit has expired, students are
required to authenticate online, even if a local account already exists.
After the student’s local account has been unlocked or created, if it is
remotely authenticated, the short-lived token issued by Apple’s servers
is converted to an iCloud token that permits signing in to iCloud. Next,
the student’s settings are restored and their documents and data are
synced from iCloud.
While the student session is active and the device remains online,
documents and data are stored on iCloud as they are created or modified.
In addition, a background syncing mechanism ensures that changes are
pushed to iCloud after the student signs out. Once background syncing
for that user is complete, the user’s APFS volume is unmounted and can’t
be mounted again without supplying the user’s credentials.
When a Shared iPad is upgraded from a version prior to iOS 10.3 to a
version of10.3 or later, a one-time file system conversion takes place
to convert theHFS+ data partition to an APFS volume. If, at that time,
any user home directories are present on the system, they will remain
on the main data volume instead of being converted to individual APFS
volumes. When additional students sign in, their home directories will
also be placed on the main data volume. New user accounts won’t be
created with their own APFS volume, as described previously, until all
user accounts on the main data volume have been deleted. Thus, to
ensure that users have the additional protections and quotas afforded
by APFS, the iPad should either be upgraded to 10.3 or later via an
erase-and-re-install, or all user accounts on the device should be
deleted via the Delete User MDM command.
72iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Apple School Manager
Apple School Manager is a service for educational institutions that
enables them to buy content, configure automatic device enrollment
in MDM solutions, create accounts for students and staff, and set up
iTunes U courses. Apple School Manager is accessible on the web
and is designed for technology managers and IT administrators, staff,
For more information on Apple School Manager, go to:
The Device Enrollment Program (DEP), part of Apple School Manager
and Apple Deployment Programs, provides a fast, streamlined way to
deploy iOS devices that an organization has purchased directly from
Apple or through participating Apple Authorized Resellers and carriers.
iOS devices running iOS 11 or later can also be added to DEP after the
time of purchase using Apple Configurator2.
Organizations can automatically enroll devices in MDM without having
to physically touch or prep the devices before users get them. After
enrolling inthe program, administrators sign in to the program website
and link the program to their MDM solution. The devices they purchased
can then be assigned to users via MDM. Once a user has been assigned,
any MDM-specified configurations, restrictions, or controls are
automatically installed. Allcommunications between devices and Apple
servers are encrypted in transit via HTTPS (SSL).
The setup process for users can be further simplified by removing
specific steps in the Setup Assistant, so users are up and running quickly.
Administrators can also control whether or not the user can remove the
MDM profile from the device and ensure that device restrictions are in
place from the very start. Once the device is unboxed and activated,
it can enroll in the organization’s MDM solution—and all management
settings, apps, and books are installed.
For more information related to businesses, go to:
For more information related to educational institutions, go to:
Note: Device enrollment isn’t available in all countries or regions.
73iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Apple Configurator 2
In addition to MDM, Apple Configurator2 for macOS makes it easy to set
up andpreconfigure iOS devices and AppleTV before handing them out
to users. With Apple Configurator2, devices can be quickly preconfigured
with apps, data, restrictions, and settings.
Apple Configurator2 allows you to use Apple School Manager (for
education) orthe Device Enrollment Program (for business) to enroll
devices in an MDM solution without users having to use the Setup
Assistant. Apple Configurator2 can also be used to add iOS devices and
AppleTV to Apple School Manager or the Device Enrollment Program
after the time of purchase.
For more information on Apple Configurator2, go to:
During the setup of a device, an organization can configure the device
to be supervised. Supervision denotes that the device is institutionally
owned, which provides additional control over its configuration and
restrictions. Devices canbe supervised during setup through Apple
School Manager, the Device Enrollment Program, or Apple Configurator2.
Supervising a device requires thedevice to be erased and the operating
For more information on configuring and managing devices using MDM or
AppleConfigurator2, go to:
Restrictions can be enabled—or in some cases, disabled—by
administrators to prevent users from accessing a specific app, service, or
function of the device. Restrictions are sent to devices in a restrictions
payload, which is attached to aconfiguration profile. Restrictions can
be applied to iOS, tvOS, and macOS devices. Certain restrictions on a
managed iPhone may be mirrored on a paired Apple Watch.
To view a current list for IT managers, go to:
iOS devices can be erased remotely by an administrator or user. Instant
remote wipe is achieved by securely discarding the block storage
encryption key from Effaceable Storage, rendering all data unreadable.
A remote wipe command can be initiated by MDM, Exchange, or iCloud.
When a remote wipe command is triggered by MDM or iCloud, the device
sends an acknowledgment and performs the wipe. For remote wipe
via Exchange, the device checks in with the Exchange server before
performing the wipe.
Users can also wipe devices in their possession using the Settings app.
And as mentioned, devices can be set to automatically wipe after a series
of failed passcode attempts.
74iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
If a device is lost or stolen, an MDM administrator can remotely enable
Lost Mode on a supervised device with iOS 9.3 or later. When Lost
Mode is enabled, the current user is logged out and the device can’t be
unlocked. The screen displays a message that can be customized by the
administrator, such as displaying a phone number to call if the device
is found. When the device is putinto Lost Mode, the administrator can
request the device to send its current location and, optionally, play a
sound. When an administrator turns off Lost Mode, which is the only way
the mode can be exited, the user is informed of this action through a
message on the Lock screen or an alert on the Home screen.
When Find My iPhone is turned on, the device can’t be reactivated
without entering the owner’s AppleID credentials or the previous
passcode of the device.
With devices that are owned by an organization, it’s a good idea to
supervise devices so that Activation Lock can be managed by the
organization instead ofrelying on the individual user to enter their
AppleID credentials to reactivate devices.
On supervised devices, a compatible MDM solution can store a bypass
code when Activation Lock is enabled, or later use this code to clear
Activation Lock automatically when the device needs to be erased and
assigned to a new user.
By default, supervised devices never have Activation Lock enabled, even
if the user turns on Find My iPhone. However, an MDM solution may
retrieve a bypass code and permit Activation Lock to be enabled on the
device. If Find My iPhone is turned on when the MDM solution enables
Activation Lock, it is enabled at that point. If Find My iPhone is turned off
when the MDM server enables Activation Lock, it’s enabled the next time
the user activates Find My iPhone.
For devices used in education with a Managed AppleID created through
Apple School Manager, Activation Lock can be tied to an administrator’s
AppleID rather than the user’s AppleID, or disabled using the device’s
75iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Apple takes customer privacy seriously and has numerous built-in
controls andoptions that allow iOS users to decide how and when apps
utilize their information, as well as what information is being utilized.
Location Services uses GPS, Bluetooth, and crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot
and cell tower locations to determine the user’s approximate location.
Location Services can be turned off using a single switch in Settings,
or users can approve access for each app that uses the service. Apps
may request to receive location data only while the app is being used or
allow it at any time. Users may choose not to allow this access, and may
change their choice at any time in Settings. From Settings, access can be
set to never allowed, allowed when in use, or always, depending on the
app’s requested location use. Also, if apps granted access to use location
at any time make use of this permission while in background mode, users
are reminded of their approval and may change an app’s access.
Additionally, users are given fine-grained control over system services’
use of location information. This includes being able to turn off the
inclusion of location information in information collected by the analytics
services used by Apple to improve iOS, location-based Siri information,
location-based context for Siri Suggestions searches, local traffic
conditions, and significant locations visited in the past.
Access to personal data
iOS helps prevent apps from accessing a user’s personal information
without permission. Additionally, in Settings, users can see which apps
they have permitted to access certain information, as well as grant or
revoke any future access. This includes access to:
• Contacts • Microphone
• Calendars • Camera
• Reminders • HomeKit
• Photos • Health
• Motion activity and fitness • Speech recognition
• Location Services • Bluetooth sharing
• Apple Music • Your media library
• Your music and video activity
• Social media accounts, such as
Twitter and Facebook
If the user signs in to iCloud, apps are granted access by default
to iCloud Drive. Users may control each app’s access under iCloud
in Settings. Additionally, iOS provides restrictions that prevent data
movement between apps and accounts installed by an MDM solution
and those installed by the user.
77iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Apple Security Bounty
Apple rewards researchers who share critical issues with Apple. In order
to be eligible for an Apple Security Bounty, researchers are required to
provide a clear report and working proof of concept. The vulnerability
must affect the latest shipping iOS and, where relevant, the latest
hardware. The exact payment amount will be determined after review by
Apple. The criteria includes novelty, likelihood of exposure, and degree
of user interaction required.
Once the issues are properly shared, Apple makes it a priority to resolve
confirmed issues as quickly as possible. Where appropriate, Apple will
provide public recognition, unless otherwise requested.
Category Maximum payment (USD)
Secure boot firmware components $200,000
Extraction of confidential material protected by the Secure Enclave $100,000
Execution of arbitrary code with kernel privileges $50,000
Unauthorized access to iCloud account data on Apple servers $50,000
Access from a sandboxed process to user data outside of that sandbox $25,000
78iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
A commitment to security
Apple is committed to helping protect customers with leading privacy
and security technologies that are designed to safeguard personal
information, aswell as comprehensive methods to help protect corporate
data in an enterprise environment.
Security is built into iOS. From the platform to the network to the apps,
everything a business needs is available in the iOS platform. Together, these
components give iOS its industry-leading security without compromising the
Apple uses a consistent, integrated security infrastructure throughout iOS
and the iOS apps ecosystem. Hardware-based storage encryption provides
remote wipe capabilities when a device is lost, and enables users to
completely remove all corporate and personal information when a device is
sold or transferred to another owner. Diagnostic information is also collected
iOS apps designed by Apple are built with enhanced security in mind. For
example, iMessage and FaceTime provide client-to-client encryption. For
third-party apps, the combination of required code signing, sandboxing,
and entitlements gives users industry-leading protection against viruses,
malware, and other exploits. The App Store submission process works to
further shield users from these risks by reviewing every iOS app before it’s
To make the most of the extensive security features built into iOS,
businesses are encouraged to review their IT and security policies to ensure
that they aretaking full advantage of the layers of security technology
offered by this platform.
Apple maintains a dedicated security team to support all Apple products.
The team provides security auditing and testing for products under
development, aswell as for released products. The Apple team also
provides security tools and training, and actively monitors for reports of
new security issues and threats. Apple is a member of the Forum of Incident
Response and Security Teams (FIRST).
To learn more about reporting issues to Apple and subscribing to security
notifications, go to:
79iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Address space layout
A technique employed by iOS to make the successful exploitation by a
software bug much more difficult. By ensuring memory addresses and offsets
are unpredictable, exploit code can’t hard code these values. In iOS 5 or later,
the position of all system apps and libraries are randomized, along with all
third-party apps compiled as position-independent executables.
Apple Push Notification service
A worldwide service provided by Apple that delivers push notifications to
Boot ROM The very first code executed by a device’s processor when it first boots.
As an integral part of the processor, it can’t be altered by either Apple or
Data Protection File and Keychain protection mechanism for iOS. It can also refer to the APIs
that apps use to protect files and Keychain items.
Device Firmware Upgrade (DFU) A mode in which a device’s Boot ROM code waits to be recovered over USB.
Thescreen is black when in DFU mode, but upon connecting to a computer
running iTunes, the following prompt is presented: “iTunes has detected an
iPad in recovery mode. You must restore this iPad before it can be used with
ECID A 64-bit identifier that’s unique to the processor in each iOS device.
When a call is answered on one device, ringing of nearby iCloud-paired
devices is terminated by briefly advertising via Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0.
The advertising bytes are encrypted using the same method as Handoff
advertisements. Used as part of the personalization process, it’s not
considered a secret.
Effaceable Storage A dedicated area of NAND storage, used to store cryptographic keys, that can
be addressed directly and wiped securely. While it doesn’t provide protection
if an attacker has physical possession of a device, keys held in Effaceable
Storage can be used as part of a key hierarchy to facilitate fast wipe and
File system key The key that encrypts each file’s metadata, including its class key. This is
kept in Effaceable Storage to facilitate fast wipe, rather than confidentiality.
Group ID (GID) Like the UID but common to every processor in a class.
Hardware security module (HSM) A specialized tamper-resistant computer that safeguards and manages
iBoot Code that’s loaded by LLB, and in turn loads XNU, as part of the secure
Identity Service (IDS) Apple’s directory of iMessage public keys, APNs addresses, and phone
numbers and email addresses that are used to look up the keys and device
Integrated circuit (IC) Also known as a microchip.
Joint Test Action Group (JTAG) Standard hardware debugging tool used by programmers and circuit
80iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018
Keybag A data structure used to store a collection of class keys. Each type (user,
device, system, backup, escrow, or iCloud Backup) has the same format:
• A header containing:
– Version (set to three in iOS 5)
– Type (system, backup, escrow, or iCloud Backup)
– Keybag UUID
– An HMAC if the keybag is signed
– The method used for wrapping the class keys: tangling with the UID or
PBKDF2, along with the salt and iteration count
• A list of class keys:
– Key UUID
– Class (which file or Keychain Data Protection class this is)
– Wrapping type (UID-derived key only; UID-derived key and
– passcode-derived key)
– Wrapped class key
– Public key for asymmetric classes
Keychain The infrastructure and a set of APIs used by iOS and third-party apps to store
and retrieve passwords, keys, and other sensitive credentials.
Key wrapping Encrypting one key with another. iOS uses NIST AES key wrapping, as per
Low-Level Bootloader (LLB) Code that’s invoked by the Boot ROM, and in turn loads iBoot, as part of the
secure boot chain.
Per-file key The AES 256-bit key used to encrypt a file on the file system. The per-file key
is wrapped by a class key and is stored in the file’s metadata.
Provisioning Profile A plist signed by Apple that contains a set of entities and entitlements
allowing apps to be installed and tested on an iOS device. A development
Provisioning Profile lists the devices that a developer has chosen for ad hoc
distribution, and a distribution Provisioning Profile contains the app ID of an
Ridge flow angle mapping A mathematical representation of the direction and width of the ridges extracted
from a portion of a fingerprint.
Smart card An integrated, embedded circuit that provides secure identification,
authentication, and datastorage.
System on a chip (SoC) An integrated circuit (IC) that incorporates multiple components into a
single chip. The Secure Enclave is an SoC within Apple’s A7 or later central
Tangling An integrated circuit (IC) that incorporates multiple components into a
single chip. The Secure Enclave is an SoC within Apple’s A7 or later central
processors. The process by which a user’s passcode is turned into a
cryptographic key and strengthened with the device’s UID. This ensures that
a brute-force attack must be performed ona given device, and thus is rate
limited and can’t be performed in parallel. The tangling algorithm is PBKDF2,
which uses AES keyed with the device UID as the pseudorandom function
(PRF) foreach iteration.
Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) A string of characters that identifies a web-based resource.
Unique ID (UID) A 256-bit AES key that’s burned into each processor at manufacture. It
can’t be read by firmware or software, and is used only by the processor’s
hardware AES engine. To obtain the actual key, an attacker would have to
mount a highly sophisticated and expensive physical attack against the
processor’s silicon. The UID isn’t related to any other identifier onthe device
including, but not limited to, the UDID.
XNU The kernel at the heart of the iOS and macOS operating systems. It’s
assumed to be trusted, and enforces security measures such as code signing,
sandboxing, entitlement checking, and ASLR.
81iOS Security Guide—White Paper | January 2018 81
January 2018 Updated for iOS 11.2
• Apple Pay Cash
Updated for iOS 11.1
• Security Certifications and Programs
• Shared Notes
• CloudKit end-to-end encryption
• Apple Pay, Paying with Apple Pay on the web
• Siri Suggestions
• Shared iPad
• For more information about the security contents of
iOS11 go to: https://support.apple.com/HT208112
July 2017 Updated for iOS 10.3
• System Enclave
• File Data Protection
• Security Certifications and programs
• Network Security
• Shared iPad
• Lost Mode
• Activation Lock
• Privacy Controls
• For more information about the security contents of
iOS 10.3 go to: https://support.apple.com/HT207617
March 2017 Updated for iOS 10
• System Security
• Data protection classes
• Security Certifications and programs
• HomeKit, ReplayKit, SiriKit
• Apple Watch
• Wi-Fi, VPN
• Single Sign-on
• Apple Pay, Paying with Apple Pay on the web
• Credit, debit, and prepaid card provisioning
• Safari Suggestions
• For more information about the security contents of
iOS10 go to: https://support.apple.com/HT207143
Document Revision History
© 2018 Apple Inc. All rights reserved.
Apple, the Apple logo, AirDrop, AirPlay, Apple Music, Apple Pay, Apple TV, Apple Watch, Bonjour, CarPlay,
Face ID, FaceTime, Handoff, iMessage, iPad, iPad Air, iPhone, iPod touch, iTunes, iTunes U, Keychain,
Lightning, Mac, macOS, OS X, Safari, Siri, Spotlight, TouchID, watchOS, and Xcode are trademarks of
Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
HealthKit, HomeKit, SiriKit, and tvOS are trademarks of Apple Inc.
AppleCare, App Store, CloudKit, iBooks Store, iCloud, iCloud Drive, iCloud Keychain, and iTunes Store are
service marks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
IOS is a trademark or registered trademark of Cisco in the U.S. and other countries and is used under
The Bluetooth® word mark and logos are registered trademarks owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc. and any use
of such marks by Apple is under license.
Java is a registered trademark of Oracle and/or its affiliates.
Other product and company names mentioned herein may be trademarks of their respective companies.
Product specifications are subject to change without notice.
May 2016 Updated for iOS 9.3
• Managed Apple ID
• Two-factor authentication for Apple ID
• Security Certifications
• Lost Mode, Activation Lock
• Secure Notes
• Apple School Manager, Shared iPad
• For more information about the security contents of iOS 9.3
go to: https://support.apple.com/HT206166
September 2015 Updated for iOS 9
• Apple Watch Activation Lock
• Passcode policies
• TouchID API support
• Data Protection on A8 uses AES-XTS
• Keybags for unattended software update
• Certification updates
• Enterprise app trust model
• Data protection for Safari bookmarks
• App Transport Security
• VPN specifications
• iCloud Remote Access for HomeKit
• Apple Pay Rewards cards, Apple Pay card issuer’s app
• Spotlight on-device indexing
• iOS Pairing Model
• Apple Configurator2
• For more information about the security contents of iOS 9
go to: https://support.apple.com/HT205212