Jailbreaking Apple iOS Devices

What is Jailbreaking?

If you own an iPhone, someone has likely asked if you have tried to “Jailbreak” it.  After all, the phone is yours, right?  Jailbreaking is not for everyone though and you should be aware there are problems that can occur.

Let’s start by explaining what Jailbreaking is, and what it actually does.  Jailbreaking is a software modification specifically developed for the iOS operating system (iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple TV).  One way to describe it would be to say Jailbreaking is sort of a way to defy the “law of corporate control” in favour of individual control.  Maybe a simpler way to describe it would be to say it gives you control over your device that Apple didn’t offer you to begin with!

When you purchase an iPhone, iPad, iPod…. iBanana… iWhatever… Apple gave the device some rules and limitations. This left you, the user, with limited functionality.  Jailbreaking gives you full “root” access to the device operating system.  

A simple example can be explained by looking at the Apps on your homescreen.  You would think that as the owner of the phone, one could maybe choose a different set of icons to change things around.  Out of the box, this is not possible.  This type of modification (as well as many others) was the fuel to create the concept of Jailbreaking.

Of course, Apple is not thrilled with the idea of Jailbreaking.  Over the years the battle has been predictable.  Apple will release a new iOS version that will make the current Jailbreak obsolete, then the “Jailbreak community” will kick out a new Jailbreak method shortly after… sometimes in a matter of days, sometimes in months.  

Benefits of Jailbreaking

There are lots of security protections offered by iOS and you might wonder why would someone want to jailbreak their iPhone or iPad?  This is because there are some nice benefits to jailbreaking.

If your device is jailbroken, you can install apps that aren't available from the iTunes App Store.  For example, you can install a framework that lets you add other unauthorized apps, such as games and networking tools.  There's also powerful customization apps that let you alter your iPhone's or iPad's look and feel, plus customize sounds and more. 

Risks with Jailbreaking

You can’t exploit an operating system without some risks through. By jailbreaking, you give up all the considerable security protection the iOS normally provides. This leaves your iPhone or iPad more vulnerable to attack. Jailbreaking makes your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch an easier target for malware. Most documented malware for iOS has affected only jailbroken devices.

Also, unless you’re a programmer, you are never going to be 100% sure what the jailbreaking code is doing.  Don’t forget, by definition, jailbreaking involves exploiting vulnerabilities in your iPhone in the first place.  And if something goes wrong during the jailbreaking process, you automatically void your warranty with Apple, so don’t bother taking your new iBrick to Apple for service.  They will turn you away on the spot.  

That said however, restoring your iOS device to factory settings by connecting it to the computer that you used to back it is possible if you have prepared ahead of time properly.

Jailbreaking unlocks some interesting capabilities in iOS devices for users adventurous enough to try it.  I haven’t personally ever jailbroken any Apple devices, and I would caution that it’s wise to think twice before modifying the operating system on your iPhone or iPad. 

If you do want to try it though, there are lots of resources out there to help you get the job done.  As with most things, I would recommend you begin a path to learning the methods of performing a jailbreak by doing an in-depth search on Google.

Have fun and remember to back up everything before you begin!