In computing, a SHSH blob is a digital signature that Apple generates and uses to personalize IPSW firmware files for each iOS device. SHSH blobs are part of Apple's protocol designed to ensure that only trusted software is installed on the device, generally only allowing the newest iOS version to be installable. Apple's public name for this process is System Software Authorization (before iOS 7, System Software Personalization). The term “SHSH blob” is unofficial and based on abbreviations for signed hash and binary large object. An alternative term, ECID SHSH, refers to the device's ECID, a unique identification number embedded in its hardware)
This process is controlled by the TATSU ("TSS") Signing Server (gs.apple.com) where updates and restores can only be completed by iTunes if the version of iOS is being signed. Developers interested in iOS jailbreaking have made tools for working around this signature system in order to install jailbreakable older iOS versions that are no longer being signed by Apple.
SHSH blobs are created by a hashing formula that has multiple keys, including the device type, the iOS version being signed, and the device's ECID.[non-primary source needed] When Apple wishes to restrict users' ability to restore their devices to a particular iOS version, Apple can refuse to generate this hash during the restore attempt, and the restore will not be successful (or at least will require bypassing the intended function of the system).
This protocol is part of iPhone 3GS and later devices.
TATSU Signing Server
When iTunes restores or updates an iOS firmware, Apple has added many checkpoints before the iOS version is installed and on-device consolidation begins. At the first "Verifying iPhone software" iTunes communicates with "gs.apple.com" to verify that the IPSW file provided is still being signed. The TATSU server will give back a list of versions being signed. If the version is not being signed, then iBEC and iBoot will decline the image, giving an error of "error 3194" or "declined to authorize the image"
iTunes will communicate with iBoot throughout the process of an update or restore ensuring the firmware has not been modified to a Custom Firmware ("CFW"). iTunes will not update or restore a device when it suspects the file has been modified.
This is a chain process, before installing the firmware, the installed iBoot has to verify the to-be-installed iBoot, and so on. You cannot install unsigned iOS versions, unless 1) you possess SHSH2 blobs and have set nonces (requiring exploits) or 2) you exploit the chain process.
Exploits and countermeasures
The requirement of SHSH Blobs in order to install to unsigned iOS versions can be bypassed using a replay attack, by saving blobs while an iOS firmware is still signed and later using them when installing the firmware. Newer iOS versions require more elements, such as a valid nonce, when saving SHSH blobs. Saving blobs for devices using the A12 SoC or newer also requires getting a matching nonce for a generator from a device to save valid blobs that can be used later in a restore. Even with SHSH blobs saved correctly, it is still sometimes not possible to jump to certain iOS versions due to incompatibility of the SEP (Secure Enclave) between versions.
To use SHSH blobs to install an unsigned iOS version on a device, tools like futurerestore (based on idevicerestore) or its GUIs can be used, which allows specification of iOS firmware files and SHSH blobs to be used in the restore.
Previous bypass methods
For iOS 3 and 4, SHSH blobs were made of static keys (such as the device type, iOS version, and ECID), which meant that the SHSH blobs for a specific iOS version and device would be the same upon every restore. To subvert that system using a man-in-the-middle attack, server requests the unique SHSH blobs from Apple for the jailbroken device and caches those SHSH blobs on servers, so that if a user changes the hosts file on a computer to redirect the SHSH blobs check to cache instead of Apple's servers, iTunes would be tricked into checking those cached SHSH blobs and allowing the device to be restored to that version.
First released in 2009,[self-published source?][dubious ] TinyUmbrella is a tool for finding information about SHSH blobs saved on third party servers, saving SHSH blobs locally, and running a local server to replay SHSH blobs to trick iTunes into restoring older devices to iOS 3 and 4.[unreliable source?] In June 2011, iH8sn0w released iFaith, a tool that can grab partial SHSH blobs from a device for its currently-installed iOS version (limited to iPhone 4 and older devices). In late 2011, the iPhone Dev Team added features to redsn0w that include the ability to save SHSH blobs with APTickets and stitch them into custom firmware in order to restore a device to iOS 5 or later.
Replaying SHSH blobs for newer devices (Apple A12 and later) is not always possible, because there are no boot ROM (hardware level) exploits available for these devices. As of October 2012, redsn0w includes features for restoring newer devices between different versions of iOS 5, but it cannot downgrade newer devices from iOS 6 to iOS 5.
- Asad, Taimur (April 30, 2011). "Save SHSH Blobs (ECID SHSH) of iPhone 3.1.3 and iPad 3.2". Redmond Pie. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- Apple Inc. (May 2012). "iOS Security" (PDF). Apple Inc. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 October 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
- Stern, Zack (July 5, 2010). "How to jailbreak your iPad and start multitasking immediately". ITBusiness.ca. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- Nat Futterman (May 25, 2010). "Jailbreaking the iPad: What You Need to Know". Geek Tech. PCWorld. Archived from the original on September 5, 2012. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
- Kumparak, Greg (June 27, 2011). "Apple Steps Up Their Game with iOS 5, Makes Jailbreaking More Difficult". TechCrunch. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- Stefan Esser (March 2012). "iOS 5: An Exploitation Nightmare?" (PDF). CanSecWest Vancouver. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
- Adam Dachis (April 25, 2011). "Save Your iDevice's SHSH to Avoid Losing the Ability to Jailbreak". Lifehacker. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
- Smith, Gina (September 27, 2012). "Apple iOS 6 woes: Save the blobs if you need to downgrade". Apple in the Enterprise. TechRepublic. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- Jay Freeman (saurik) (September 2009). "Caching Apple's Signature Server". Saurik.com. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
- Hoog, Andrew; Strzempka, Katie (2011). iPhone and iOS Forensics: Investigation, Analysis and Mobile Security for Apple iPhone, iPad and iOS Devices. Elsevier. pp. 47–50. ISBN 9781597496599. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
- Cheng, Jacqui (June 27, 2011). "iOS 5 beta hobbles OS downgrades, untethered jailbreaks". Infinite Loop. Ars Technica. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- Oliver Haslam (June 27, 2011). "iOS 5 Will Halt SHSH Firmware Downgrades On iPhone, iPad, iPod touch". Redmond Pie. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
- Levin, Jonathan (2012). Mac OS X and iOS Internals: To the Apple's Core. John Wiley & Sons. p. 214. ISBN 9781118222256. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
- notcom (September 19, 2009). "TinyTSS -- All your iphone restores are belong to you". The Firmware Umbrella. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
- notcom (May 20, 2010). "TinyUmbrella - Unified TinyTSS and The Firmware Umbrella in ONE!". The Firmware Umbrella. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
- Brownlee, John (November 15, 2011). "TinyUmbrella Updated To Support Backing Up iPhone 4S And iOS 5.0.1 SHSH Blobs". Cult of Mac. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- Sayam Aggarwal (July 26, 2010). "Before Jailbreaking, Extract Your iPhone's SHSH Blobs with Umbrella". Cult of Mac. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
- Landau, Ted (April 22, 2011). "TinyUmbrella and ITunes 1013 Error Strike Again". MacWorld. PCWorld. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- Goncalo Ribeiro (June 3, 2011). "How To Save SHSH Blobs Of Any Old Firmware Running On Your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch Using iFaith". Redmond Pie. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
- Morris, Paul (December 24, 2011). "Cydia Is Now Saving SHSH Blobs For iOS 5.0.1 Firmware". Redmond Pie. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- Jeff Benjamin (September 27, 2011). "How to Stitch Your SHSH Blobs Using RedSn0w to Create Firmware That Can Always Be Downgraded". iDownloadBlog. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
- iPhone Dev Team (October 2012). "Restoration reinvigoration". Dev Team Blog. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
- iPhone Dev Team (September 2012). "Blob-o-riffic". Dev Team Blog. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
- Morris, Paul (October 14, 2012). "How To Re-Restore iPhone 4S, iPad 3, iPad 2, iPod touch From iOS 5.x To iOS 5.x Using Redsn0w". Redmond Pie. Retrieved December 30, 2012.