Blackberry’s cybersecurity team just shared in a new report how to simulate and run the ARM macOS kernel on the Intel chip platform to easily carry out security research on Apple Silicon. This report, written by the BlackBerry Research and Intelligence team, provides security researchers and penetration testers with a way to successfully simulate the macOS ARM64 kernel using the QEMU open-source computer emulator.
The report pointed out that the latest development of Apple hardware makes it difficult for security researchers to follow up in time, but the industry’s demand for a test environment targeting ARM is also increasing. The good news is that this theory proposed by BlackBerry shows how to use simulation to manipulate and control the kernel to find critical errors and fix specific kernel areas.
In this way, security researchers can use this streamlined macOS kernel to easily carry out debugging and vulnerability discovery work. It is reported that the emulation is developed in response to Apple Silicon chips such as M1, and mainstream operating systems support ARM64 more and more. For example, the next major version of the Linux kernel will provide initial support for Apple Silicon.
In order to virtualize the ARM64 macOS environment on a Linux host equipped with an Intel Core processor, the BlackBerry team not only introduced how to download the macOS Big Sur installation package but also designed the QEMU configuration, as well as other files and settings adjustments.
As the researchers pointed out, cross-platform virtualization is nothing new. As early as 2009, we have seen an ARM system that can be virtualized on an Intel host, and there have been subsequent releases to simulate the iOS kernel on a macOS host. In summary, Apple XNU based on Unix-derived kernels will also be added sooner or later. Interested friends can move to the BlackBerry Cylance GitHub homepage to learn about related resources and other details.
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