Apple Inc. appears to have backed down and let Corellium continue selling virtual iOS devices to security researchers. The iPhone maker had already lost an important case against the much smaller security research company late last year.
Corellium, a small company that has been selling the virtualization software of Apple Inc.’s iOS operating system, has reached a settlement. While both the companies have kept the terms of the agreement confidential, Corellium will continue selling virtual iOS devices for security and research purposes.
Why was Apple going after Corellium, a company founded in 2017?
Corellium, founded in 2017, makes virtual operating system emulators for security researchers. The husband-and-wife duo, Amanda Gorton and Chris Wade, essentially allow researchers to test iPhone software on computers, instead of on actual iPhone devices.
Back then, the security community had hailed the company and its software as a breakthrough in security research. Corellium gives its customers the ability to run “virtual” iPhones on desktop computers.
Scoop: Apple has dropped its lawsuit against Corellium, which was scheduled to go to trial and was being closely watched by a security industry that feared it would have a chilling effect on research tools used to make software safer. https://t.co/LB2wJW4SjV
— Reed Albergotti (@ReedAlbergotti) August 11, 2021
Essentially, the company’s software allows security and ethical hacking groups the ability to virtually take apart and investigate Apple iOS. Previously, researchers needed access to multiple iPhones to conduct their research, which meant the process was very expensive.
The iOS operating system powers all of Apple iPhones. However, just like Windows 10, it is a closed-source operating system. This means Apple doesn’t allow third-party developers to virtually dissect and investigate any component.
— 9to5Mac.com (@9to5mac) August 11, 2021
Apple Inc. attempted to shut down Corellium by arguing the company had violated copyright law with its software. However, the Judge observed Corellium wasn’t creating a competing product for consumers. Rather, it was a research tool for a comparatively small number of customers.
The Judge further noted his surprise and called Apple’s argument on those claims “Puzzling, if not disingenuous.” While the court ruled in favor of Corellium, the Judge did not dismiss Apple’s claim that Corellium circumvented the company’s security measures to create the software, thereby violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Apple Inc. settles its federal lawsuit Tuesday against Corellium:
Reports now indicate Apple Inc. and Corellium have reached a settlement. Neither of the companies has shared any details of the same. However, the security research company will continue selling its virtual iOS software for research and testing purposes.
Interestingly, Apple resorted to using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to stop Corellium. The act is meant to protect entertainment companies from online piracy.
Apple settles lawsuit against virtualization firm Corellium https://t.co/sPkm1GXFLS
— AppleInsider (@appleinsider) August 11, 2021
Before using legal force, Apple Inc. had tried to buy the company. Back then, Corellium had turned down the offer.
Apple is suing Corellium for violating the DMCA, and the trial starts on August 16. Corellium's platform recently enabled some important reporting by @washingtonpost about scams in the App Store. 🗞️https://t.co/p9M9NzEVoI
— Runa Sandvik (@runasand) August 7, 2021
Incidentally, Corellium offers its software free to journalists. Reporters can use virtual iPhones to avoid surveillance from authoritarian governments.
Earlier this year Corellium started to sell its software to individuals as well. The company, however, insists that it reviews each request individually to avoid the use of the software for malicious purposes.