Is this Central Florida 6th grader smarter than Apple?

11-year-old secretly uses iPhone to record mom's screen pass code

A Central Florida 11-year-old may be the first sixth grader to be acknowledged as a kid who is smarter than Apple.

Ryan Jenkins made an accidental discovery a few weeks ago that allowed him to record his mother's parental access code to a gaming app while completely undetected.

Ryan demonstrated what happened on his phone several times, leaving no doubt this was not a fluke.

The outgoing iOS 12 operating system allowed Ryan to swipe up on the screen and press the screen record button. It continued to record after the system's displays were away capturing the screen as his mom put in the access code, however, there was no way to detect the recording was still going.

News 6 repeated the same recording of a password and confirmed the red indicator is not visible as the screen is being recorded.

Watch the video below to see the technical glitch in action:

"I didn't know it would stop showing the red bar (record indicator)," the 11-year old said. "It was supposed to show a red bar at the top, but when she put in the password, the red bar is gone."

The technical surprise occurs with the outgoing iOS software.

Ryan said he was convinced his mother would not notice the record indicator because it was so subtle.
The red bar is the tiniest detail, he told News 6, "So I thought she wouldn't notice it there and concentrate on the password."

Ryan said he figured out this fluke when he wanted an additional 15 minutes of playing time for the game "Minecraft." The game allows players to build with a variety of blocks in a 3D-generated world.

What Ryan did not understand was that while using the iOS 12 software, the red record light vanishes, something Apple's security team reviewed and plans to address in a software update.

"I'm actually surprised they didn't put something there," Ryan said. "They should put a notification that says 'warning your password is being recorded."

As his mother punched in the code, the sequence actually was recorded with each number lighting up, leaving no doubt what the code was.

His father, Danny Jenkins, is CEO of ThreatLocker, Inc., a respected cybersecurity company handling security defense systems for schools and corporations around the world.

"Nothing surprises me anymore as a cyber security professional," Jenkins said. "I see vulnerabilities that are obvious all the time."

Apple told News 6 they are going to correct the software flaw. 

According to a spokesperson with Apple, the new iOS 13 software will eliminate the recording concern.

News 6 put the IOS 13 software to the test and found the keyboard is not visible when the iPhone in record mode; however, the software update isn't foolproof.

This week, Apple issued a warning to customers using third-party keyboard apps with the software.

Apple's support page includes a statement that Apple had discovered "a bug in iOS13 and iPadOS that can result in keyboard extensions being granted full access even if you haven't approved the access."

The company has prepared a  software update to fix the issue.

The issue is not related to the recording flaw Ryan Jenkins discovered. For more information, click here.

About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.