Apple shares how its M1 Mac chips bring a lot of iPhone security tech to its computers

For years, Apple has touted the security built into its iPhones and iPads. More than a decade ago, it added ways to encrypt information on the iPhone. In 2010, it introduced encrypted messaging with iMessage. And in 2013, it introduced TouchID biometric sensors to help people unlock phones. Over the years, it’s been able to bring those technologies to the Mac too — but now, with its new M1 chips for the MacMini, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, it’ll be able to supercharge those efforts.

a screen shot of a computer: Apple; screenshot by CNET

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Apple; screenshot by CNET

On its website Thursday, Apple updated its Platform Security documents, describing how Mac computers now work in much more similar ways to their iPhone counterparts. The documents dive into nitty-gritty details of how various security systems within computers and phones talk to one another, and how they’re designed to protect an Apple user’s privacy.

“Secure software requires a foundation of security built into hardware,” Apple said in its security update, which came in at nearly 200 pages long. “That’s why Apple devices — running iOS, iPadOS, MacOS, TVOS, or WatchOS — have security capabilities designed into silicon.”

a close up of a wire fence: Apple's increasingly marketed its products as being designed to protect user's privacy. Angela Lang/CNET

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Apple’s increasingly marketed its products as being designed to protect user’s privacy. Angela Lang/CNET

It may seem odd for a company as secretive as Apple to share so much detail about nearly anything. The tech giant is as much known for its marketing as it is for its devices, and while the company does share some technical details about its products on its website, it’s meant for general audiences.


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The Platform Security information though is different. Apple said it began publishing this information for business customers more than a decade ago. But the company soon learned that security researchers it works with to identify vulnerabilities in its devices found it helpful too. That’s part of why you’ll find terms like “kernel integrity protection” and “pointer authentication codes,” both of which are part of the company’s various security systems. 

Apple isn’t the only company that works with security researchers, of course. Over the past decade, the tech industry at large has…