Apple has announced the existence of a new and very limited-edition iPhone.
The new "Security Research Device" (SRD) is a full iPhone that adds shell access so that security researchers can give it a thorough going-over.
As Apple explains: "This program is designed to help improve security for all iOS users, bring more researchers to iPhone, and improve efficiency for those who already work on iOS security."
The company says the SRD offers "unique code execution and containment policies" to help researchers along.
To get your hands on the device, Apple says you'll need "a proven track record of success in finding security issues on Apple platforms, or other modern operating systems and platforms." Apple will also conduct its own application process and says that not all applicants will be offered a device.
Those that do will enjoy access for a year at a time, but must keep the SRD on-premises, use it only for research and ensure it is only used by named personnel that Apple has approved.
If working with the device yields a bug, users "must promptly report it to Apple and, if the bug is in third-party code, to the appropriate third party." Apple will then set a date for disclosure – usually the date on which it publishes a patch.
News of the SRD programme suggests Apple recognises it needs a bigger security testing ecosystem and that for a wider programme to be effective testers will need deeper access to iPhones' workings than is possible with third-party tools. ®