Apple stops signing iOS 13.1, hindering firmware downgrades

Apple on Monday stopped signing iOS 13.1, a move on the Cupertino-based company’s part that prevents most iPhone and iPad users from downgrading from any newer version of the mobile operating system.

It’s worth noting that Apple stopped signing iOS 13.0 just last week along with iOS 13.1.1. For whatever reason, Apple continued to sign iOS 13.1 alongside iOS 13.1.2, with the latter being the latest release at the time of this writing.

Apple rapidly releases updated software for its iOS device lineup to ensure that its user base utilizes the latest performance and security improvements. Apple frequently stops signing older versions of iOS because the company generally doesn’t want its users downgrading their firmware and being made vulnerable to potential security exploits.

Many of these same security exploits are used in jailbreaking – the process of liberating a locked-down handset to permit seemingly endless customization by the end user – which Apple also doesn’t want its users doing.

On that note, it’s worth noting that a bootrom exploit dubbed checkm8 was just recently released and Apple can’t patch it with a software update. This particular vulnerability exploits the hardware in A5-A11 devices, and assuming a jailbreak tool ever takes advantage of it, those devices may soon be jailbreakable for life. What’s more is this very same exploit could potentially permit firmware downgrades regardless of signing status (a jailbreaker’s dream).

But jailbreaking isn’t the only motive to downgrade one’s iOS firmware – legitimate excuses also exist in the form of evading newly-introduced bugs, which sometimes present themselves after Apple releases a new software update. Sometimes, users will downgrade their firmware just to get back to a stable release.

Given just how buggy the initial iOS 13 release was, most of Apple’s recent updates have been bug fix updates rather than exploit-patching updates. Nevertheless, with iOS 13.2 now in beta testing, it’ll only be a matter of time before the now-current iOS 13.1.2 release sees its final day of signing following the future release of iOS 13.2.

As always, you can use the nifty online tool to see if a particular version of iOS is being signed for your device. The website now reflects the latest changes.

Are you fettered by Apple’s decision to stop signing iOS 13.1.2 this evening? Let us know in the comments section below.