According to a new support document, the Cupertino company has made some security changes to the older A12, A13 and S5 chips.

In Fall 2020, Apple made some unusual mid-production hardware changes to the A12 , A13,and S5 processors in its devices to update the Secure Storage Component.

According to an Apple support page , in fact, the company has updated the Secure Enclave in a series of chips produced in the fall of 2020:

Secure Enclave is a security partner that includes a hardware-based key manager isolated from the main processor to provide an additional layer of security. Secure Enclave is a hardware feature found on certain versions of iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, Apple Watch and HomePod, namely:

  • iPhone 5s or later
  • iPad Air or later
  • Mac computers equipped with a T1 chip or an Apple T2 security chip
  • 4th generation or later Apple TV
  • Apple Watch Series 1 or later
  • HomePod

The key data is encrypted in the Secure Enclave’s System on Chip (SoC), which includes a random number generator.

The Secure Enclave also maintains the integrity of encryption operations even when the device’s kernel has been compromised. Communication between the Secure Enclave and the Application Processor is tightly controlled through its isolation in an interrupt-driven mailbox and shared memory data buffer.

This apparently means that the following products are equipped with the second generation Secure Enclave, despite not being equipped with the latest processors, such as the A14 and S6:

  • HomePod mini – S5 processor and 2nd generation secure storage component
  • Apple Watch SE: S5 processor and second generation secure storage component
  • iPad (8th generation): A12 processor and 2nd generation secure storage component

This appears to be a countermeasure against password-cracking devices, such as GrayKey , which attempt to break into iPhones using exploits that allow endless incorrect password attempts.

It’s unusual for Apple to change a component in its chips mid-production, but the company probably found the security update important enough to integrate it into all new devices starting last fall, rather than just A14-chip devices and S6.

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