Jailbreak with iPhones: There is still room in the prison

Between the release of firmware version 1.1. and the current jailbreak had just 4039 days passed. And who wants to use the jailbreak, requires a computer with Windows XP. A version of Windows, which first appeared in 2001 and whose support ended in April 2014. The successor to XP (Windows Vista) was launched in 2007 …

Of course, the highly delayed jailbreak for the first generation iPod touch is a lover project by the hacking group “iPhone 1337”. But he also says a lot about the state of the jailbreak industry: it’s largely out of the public eye.

Did you jailbreak your iPhone as well? The question is increasingly rare in the user community. There is room again in the prison.

What is a jailbreak anyway?

Jailbreak? Many young people today will ask themselves: What is that anyway?

Of course, a legendary album of the Australian band AC / DC (released in 1974), but above all a liberation action, especially for the closed iOS system, which is controlled in detail by Apple and greatly restricts the user rights, while the Rooten, so The acquisition of extended user rights, with which smartphones and tablets can be further customized, is rather easy on Android devices.


A root has the advantage that it can intervene in the file system. Thus, data or even apps can be customized as desired. If you prefer to modify your device, Android would be far better off than iOS. But is also less safe on the road.

This is also the reason why Apple has opted for a closed system (“closed-world model”) by default: security is on iOS. But iOS remains such a golden cage: What controls (alone) Apple, so the philosophy of the company, was safe. If you open your device, it uses it more flexible, but at the same time more vulnerable to security vulnerabilities.

Also interesting: Apple as a market power in the B2B sector

If the user opted for the jailbreak on iOS, the software administration Cydia is usually installed. This lets Apple’s in-house software department store, the App Store, bypass. From then on, for example, through administrator access to the operating system, apps can be installed that were not certified by Apple and therefore not available in the App Store.

What began in 2007 with the very first jailbreak of a group called the iPhone Dev Team has now become largely meaningless.

“Biggest leak in the history of the iPhone”

Of course, users still jailbreaken their iPhone. In the heyday of the jailbreak, in 2013, 3.3 percent of all iPhones should have been affected: 23 million devices out of 700 million iPhones sold between 2007 and 2013. The iPhone 4 is said to have been the iPhone that gejailbreakt most has been.

But today it turns out that even the latest jailbreak does not electrify the masses anymore. It is available for iOS 11.0 through 11.4 (beta 3). Hacker Coolstar released it under the name “Electra”. Support is available for all 64bit devices, including the iPhone X.

In the spring of 2018, a new glimmer of hope sprang up in the jailbreak scene. The San Francisco-based GitHub code-hosting platform was an outrage for Apple: the source code for a critical component of the iPhone OS was available for download.

As early as December 2017, the code had surfaced on another platform. But nobody at Reddit had noticed.

This changed with availability on GitHub. Anyone who downloaded the iBoot code from GitHub could definitely manipulate iOS devices.

Jonathan Levin, author of several books on iOS and macOS (“Security & Insecurity”) described the incident to the US portal Motherboard as the “biggest leak in the history” of the iPhone. In the worst case – for Apple – smart developers could emulate the code and run iOS on platforms that are not operated by Apple.

A thriller. Nobody knew who was behind this leak – maybe even a (dissatisfied) Apple employee? Although the code had apparently been filtered out of the then two-year-old iOS 9, but he also had code snippets that Apple still used on iOS 11.

He was real. But only for a short time. It took only a few hours, then Apple’s lawyers contacted GitHub and addressed a request to immediately remove the code from the platform:“The” iBoot “source code is proprietary and it includes Apple’s copyright notice.It is not open-source.”

The risk is greater than the benefit

This can be interpreted as a clear indication that Apple also considered the leak to be genuine. The operators of GitHub responded promptly and removed the code. Even if it can be assumed that the code had spread even after only a few hours on GitHub, it was not until today the drama that Apple had to fear: iOS remains closed.

And the former pioneers of the Jailbreak in its early stages have long since begun the swan song. Above all Jay Freeman, who was responsible for the alternative Cydia App Store since the beginning of 2008: in a Vice-Interview, Significantly enough, “The Life, Death, and Legend of iPhone Jailbreaking,” Freeman concluded that the risk of a jailbreak was “far greater than the value.”

Apple’s system is now so secure that a jailbreak “only small modifications” instead of – as in the past – killer features could guarantee. The effort is too big. Fewer and fewer developers would jailbreak for less and less interested in attack, this demotivated naturally.

It probably does not change anything that the Pangu team has already presented the A12 chip in late September, with iOS 12 on an iPhone XS as Untethered Jailbreak (finished jailbreak, which should work like iOS itself).

This also applies to the word announcement of the well-known hacker Luca Todesco this week. He claimed that he had managed to jailbreak the iPhone XS Max, the latest model that Apple has just unveiled. In a tweet told Todesco, he had to bypass the security mechanisms of Apple, because despite the new A12 chip in the iPhone XS Max, the device is “not one hundred percent secured.”

The community reacted with perceived listlessness. It may be that Todesco did not go into details about how he did the jailbreak, nor did he tell if he plans to release the jailbreak tool for other users at all.

Also interesting: iPhone Guide: Which device suits you?

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