The SEP, which is isolated from the rest of a device, handles Touch ID transactions. TechRepublic claims that it would now be open season as far as developing vulnerabilities for the enclave goes.
The SEP is at the heart of Apple's security and is entirely separate from the rest of a device. It has its own operating system, updates independently of the rest of the device and generates a unique ID for the device.
Additional security for the UID comes from the fact that it is conflated with a second key that changes on every reboot.
"Instead, you instruct the Secure Enclave, which sits apart from the main processor, to create the key, securely store it, and perform operations with it. You receive only the outcome of such operations."
Key features of the SEP, according to Apple:
- It is a hardware feature of the Apple A7 or later A-series processor. Only iOS devices with one of these processors or a MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar and Touch ID support this feature.
- It stores only 256-bit elliptic curve private keys, and these can only be used for creating and verifying cryptographic signatures, or for elliptic curve Diffie-Hellman key exchange (and by extension, symmetric encryption).
- It cannot import pre-existing keys. You must create keys inside the Secure Enclave directly. Not having a mechanism to transfer key data into or out of the Secure Enclave is fundamental to its security.
An Apple spokesman told TechRepublic: "There are a lot of layers of security involved in the SEP, and access to firmware in no way provides access to data protection class information."