Rumor: Apple is going to give special iPhones to security researchers

According to sources from Forbes, Apple is going to give security researchers special variants of its iPhones, similar to what the internal security team gets, but with less access. Apple would also set up a bug bounty program for macOS.

The devices would be given to the hackers who participate in Apple’s existing iOS bug reporting rewards program. This program is by invitation only. There is no mention of plans to distribute the modified iPhones in other ways as well.

On the devices, researchers get more access to the operating system, and can stop the processor and inspect the memory, Forbes writes. That’s more access than is possible with an iPhone from the store, but not as much as Apple itself has. For example, the firmware remains encrypted. The site also notes that the move may be in response to the leak of prototype iPhones.

Apple has had a bug bounty program for iOS since 2016, but not yet for macOS. According to Forbes sources, that is about to change. Apple would make the announcements at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas later this week, according to the site’s sources. Apple itself did not respond to requests for comment from Forbes.