iOS jailbreaking is the process of removing the limitations on Apple Inc. devices running the iOS operating system through the use of software and hardware exploits; such devices include the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and second-generation Apple TV. Jailbreaking permits root access to the iOS operating system, allowing the download of additional applications, extensions, and themes that are unavailable through the official Apple App Store. Jailbreaking is a form of privilege escalation, and the term has been used to describe privilege escalation on devices by other manufacturers as well. The name refers to breaking the device out of its “jail”, which is a technical term used in Unix-style systems, for example in the term “FreeBSD jail“. A jailbroken iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS can still use the App Store, iTunes, and other normal functions, such as making telephone calls.
Use of third-party apps
One of the reasons for jailbreaking is to expand the feature set limited by Apple and its App Store.[dubious – discuss] Apple checks apps for compliance with its iOS Developer Program License Agreement before accepting them for distribution in the App Store. However, their reasons for banning apps are not limited to safety and security and may be construed as arbitrary and capricious. As the list of banned apps continues to grow, users rely on jailbreaking to circumvent Apple’s censorship of content and features. Jailbreaking permits the downloading of programs not approved by Apple, such as customization apps used to change the User Interface.
Since software programs available through Cydia are not required to adhere to App Store guidelines, many of them are not typical self-contained apps but instead are extensions and customizations for iOS and other apps. Users install these programs for purposes including personalization and customization of the interface, adding desired features and fixing annoyances, and making development work on the device easier by providing access to the filesystem and command-line tools. Many Chinese iPhone owners jailbreak their phones to install third-party Chinese character input systems because they are easier to use than Apple’s.
After “jailbreaking” their iPhone, owners can access almost unlimited customization, allowing for better control of the phone’s settings, like the user interface, and color scheme. For iPhone users, this is the solution to the iPhone’s restrictions, making it possible to allow similar customization like Google’s operating system, Android. But, the amount of customization that is available through jailbreaking is far more advanced than Android, or any other stock operating system.
Jailbreaking a device involves circumventing its technological protection measures (in order to allow root access and running alternative software), so its legal status is affected by laws regarding circumvention of digital locks, such as laws protecting digital rights management (DRM) mechanisms. Many countries do not have such laws, and some countries have laws including exceptions for jailbreaking.
International treaties have influenced the development of laws affecting jailbreaking. The 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty requires nations party to the treaties to enact laws against DRM circumvention. The American implementation is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which includes a process for establishing exemptions for non-copyright-infringing purposes such as jailbreaking. The 2001 European Copyright Directive implemented the treaty in Europe, requiring member states of the European Union to implement legal protections for technological protection measures. The Copyright Directive includes exceptions to allow breaking those measures for non-copyright-infringing purposes, such as jailbreaking to run alternative software, but member states vary on the implementation of the directive.
“Apple’s goal has always been to insure that our customers have a great experience with their iPhone and we know that jailbreaking can severely degrade the experience. As we’ve said before, the vast majority of customers do not jailbreak their iPhones as this can violate the warranty and can cause the iPhone to become unstable and not work reliably.”
In 2010, in response to a request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the U.S. Copyright Office explicitly recognized an exemption to the DMCA to permit jailbreaking in order to allow iPhone owners to use their phones with applications that are not available from Apple’s store, and to unlock their iPhones for use with unapproved carriers. Apple had previously filed comments opposing this exemption and indicated that it had considered jailbreaking to be a violation of copyright (and by implication prosecutable under the DMCA). Apple’s request to define copyright law to include jailbreaking as a violation was denied as part of the 2009 DMCA rulemaking. In their ruling, the Library of Congress affirmed on July 26, 2010 that jailbreaking is exempt from DMCA rules with respect to circumventing digital locks. DMCA exemptions must be reviewed and renewed every three years or else they expire. In 2012, the Copyright Office renewed the jailbreaking exemption for phones but declined to approve a new exemption for tablet computers such as iPads, due to the vague definition of “tablet” in the proposed exemption. The Copyright Office also renewed the 2010 exemption for unofficially unlocking phones to use them on unapproved carriers, but restricted this exemption to phones purchased before January 2013.
Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School, argued in 2007 that jailbreaking is “legal, ethical, and just plain fun.” Wu cited an explicit exemption issued by the Library of Congress in 2006 for personal unlocking, which notes that locks “are used by wireless carriers to limit the ability of subscribers to switch to other carriers, a business decision that has nothing whatsoever to do with the interests protected by copyright” and thus do not implicate the DMCA. Wu did not claim that this exemption applies to those who help others unlock a device or “traffic” in software to do so. In 2010 and 2012, the U.S. Copyright Office approved exemptions to the DMCA that allow iPhone users to jailbreak their devices legally. It is still possible Apple may employ technical countermeasures to prevent jailbreaking or prevent jailbroken phones from functioning, but it will not be able to sue users who jailbreak. It is also unclear whether it is legal to traffic in the tools used to make jailbreaking easy.
Use of iPhone on multiple carriers
Jailbreaking also opens the possibility for using software to unofficially unlock carrier-locked iPhones so they can be used with other carriers. Software-based unlocks have been available since 2008, with each tool applying to a specific iPhone model and baseband version (or multiple models and versions).
Is it Safe?
The first iPhone worm, iKee, appeared in early November 2009, created by a 21-year-old Australian student in the town of Wollongong. He told Australian media that he created the worm to raise awareness of security issues: jailbreaking allows users to install an SSH service, which those users can leave in the default unsecure state. In the same month, F-Secure reported on a new malicious worm compromising bank transactions from jailbroken phones in the Netherlands, similarly affecting devices where the owner had installed SSH without changing the default password.
A Forbes staff analyzed UCSB study on 1407 free programs available from a third party source and Apple. Of the 1,407 free apps investigated in the cited study, 825 were downloaded from Apple’s App Store using the website App Tracker, and 526 from BigBoss (Cydia’s default repository). 21% of official apps tested leaked device ID and 4% leaked location. Unofficial apps leaked 4% and 0.2% respectively. 0.2% of apps from Cydia leaked photos and browsing history, while the Apple store leaked none. He commented that unauthorized apps tend to respect privacy better than official ones. Also, there is a program called PrivaCy that allows user to control the upload of usage statistics to remote servers.
Installing software published outside the App Store has the potential to affect battery life and system stability if the software is poorly optimized or frequently uses resource-draining services (such as 3G or Wi-Fi).
Types of Jailbreaking
An “untethered” jailbreak has the property that if the user turns the device off and back on, the device will start up completely, and the kernel will be patched without the help of a computer – in other words, it will be jailbroken after each reboot.
However, with a “tethered” jailbreak, a computer is needed to turn the device on each time it is rebooted. If the device starts back up on its own, it will no longer have a patched kernel, and it may get stuck in a partially started state. By using a computer, the phone is essentially “re-jailbroken” (using the “boot tethered” feature of a jailbreaking tool) each time it is turned on. This is often a major problem for users on a tethered jailbreak. If the device is not connected to a computer, it is rendered useless until it is. Devices that use tethered jailbreaks can still respring and not lose the jailbreak.
A device with a tethered jailbreak may have a semi-tethered solution, which means that when the device boots, it will no longer have a patched kernel (so it will not be able to run modified code), but it will still be usable for normal functions. To use any features that require running modified code, the user must start the device with the help of the jailbreaking tool in order for it to start with a patched kernel (jailbroken).
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DIY Jailbreak Options
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Important! Read me!
- Warning! Over The Air updates of iOS 7 are known to create an issue and make the jailbreak fail. Some devices are then stuck on the Apple Boot Logo. Until we fix that, please restore your device to 7.0.4. with iTunes first.
- Backup your device using iTunes (or iCloud) before using evasi0n. If something breaks, you’ll always be able to recover your data.
- Please disable the lock passcode of your iOS device before using evasi0n. It can cause issues.
- Avoid all iOS and iTunes related tasks until evasi0n is complete. Why not just enjoy a brief break from the computer to stretch your legs?
- If the process gets stuck somewhere, it’s safe to restart the program, reboot the device (if necessary by holding down Power and Home until it shuts down), and rerun the process.
- If you get an error on OS X 10.8/10.9 saying that evasi0n can’t be opened, control-click (or right-click) the app and on the revealed context menu, choose ‘Open.’ On the ensuing dialogue box, choose ‘Open’ as well.
- Some Cydia tweaks are not yet compatible with iOS 7. The situation will improve as developers will update their software.
- 5 minutes of your time!
- A computer, running Windows (XP minimum), Mac OS X (10.7 minimum)
- iTunes installed if you’re running Windows
- An iPhone, iPad or iPod running iOS 7.0 through 7.0.4 (you may check in Settings / General / About => Version)
- A USB cable to connect the device to the computer
- @phoenixdev for his research
- @Surenix for evad3rs and evasi0n designs
- Hanéne Samara for her work on evasi0n GUI
- @ollvm for their support and the early version of Obfuscator-LLVM