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Apple Sues Corellium Over Security Research Tool

Apple has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Florida-based virtualization company Corellium for creating “perfect replicas” of iOS that can be used for security research and other purposes.

Not much is known about Corellium — its website does not provide any information about the products or services it offers. An article published by Forbes in February 2018 described the company as a “super stealth startup” that had built an “Apple hacker’s paradise.” Corellium’s first customer was said to be Azimuth Security, a small Australian company that reportedly provides hacking tools to law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

According to the complaint filed by Apple, Corellium offers a virtual version of the company’s mobile devices by replicating its iOS and iTunes software, including the graphical interface and the underlying code. Apple says Corellium does not have a license or permission from the company and its practices represent copyright infringement.

Apple says Corellium claims it provides a research tool useful for finding vulnerabilities and other types of flaws in Apple software. The company allegedly offers to deliver a “private” installation of its product to anyone for one million dollars per year.

“Far from assisting in fixing vulnerabilities, Corellium encourages its users to sell any discovered information on the open market to the highest bidder,” Apple said in its complaint.

Apple says it “strongly supports good-faith security research” and claims it has never pursued legal action against a researcher. The company pointed to its recently launched public bug bounty program, which offers as much as $1 million per vulnerability report.

“The purpose of this lawsuit is not to encumber good-faith security research, but to bring an end to Corellium’s unlawful commercialization of Apple’s valuable copyrighted works. Accordingly, Apple respectfully seeks an injunction, along with the other remedies described below, to stop Corellium’s acts of naked copyright infringement,” Apple said.

SecurityWeek has reached out to Corellium for comment and will update this article if the company responds.

Corellium’s website does show an intellectual property policy, last updated on July 4, 2019, that says the company “respects the intellectual property rights of others and expects its users to do the same.”

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.