iPhone iOS 13

Hackers Release Jailbreak Tool for Apple’s iOS

Last edited: May 25, 2020
Reading time: 2 minutes, 57 seconds

Apple have always tried to make it impossible for people to install software on their phones that hasn’t been approved by the company. But last weekend, a hacker group named Unc0ver released a tool that can jailbreak iOS 11 or higher.

Jailbreaking

When you jailbreak a phone it means that you modify it so that the restrictions set by the manufacturerthere are removed. People usually jailbreak a phone to install apps that otherwise couldn’t be installed. Since a company such as Apple has control over which apps are allowed into the app store, not all apps will be available there. When someone jailbreaks an iPhone, you can install any app that you want.

Another thing that Apple does is that they won’t allow you to delete some of the apps that are on your phone, even when you don’t use them. You are able to delete these apps with the help of a hacking tool, and free up space on your phone. You can also customize your phone even more when it is jailbroken, because you will be able to change default settings that you normally cannot. For example, you could change the app icons to personalize your phone completely.

Hackers will also modify certain apps that you have to pay for in the app store and offer them for free to the jailbroken app store. Which is, of course, not legal at all, but it is another reason for people to jailbreak their phones.

Dangers

Although jailbreaking makes you have more control over your device, it also brings some dangers to it. Since you modify the device, and are able to install apps that haven’t been approved by anyone, you could easily install a malicious app. Most Apple approved apps work very well on iPhones, cause they make sure that they do. Jailbroken devices often drain their batteries faster or users experience random reboots.

Apple has always spoken out against jailbreaking. The company says that the restrictions to prevent access to the underlying software are put in place for security reasons. They have said that jailbreaking it is a violation of the user agreement. So if you ever need to go to the store with your jailbroken iOS device it is very likely that you will be denied service or lose your warranty.

And it’s not just Apple that says jailbreaking isn’t a good idea. Security experts typically agree, because if you break out of Apple’s ‘jail’, you might expose many vulnerabilities on your device. This could mean that your data isn’t secure anymore.

Unc0ver

This time, the hackers have found a weakness in iOS through which they could get into the system. They then made the underlying software available to be modified. The jailbreak supports all versions of iOS 11 and higher, including iOS 13.5, which was released last week. And it turned out that jailbreaking is still very popular. The site on which you could download the jailbreak went down almost immediately, because so many people tried to visit the page.

The group told Wired that “[t]his jailbreak basically just adds exceptions to the existing rules. It only enables reading new jailbreak files and parts of the file system that contain no user data.” Researchers who have tested the jailbreak before its release said that it functions as it should. But the jailbreak has not been fully assed yet by the online community, and since the tool is not open source it is a lot more difficult to properly analyze it.

Cybersecurity analyst
David is a cyber security analyst and one of the founders of VPNoverview.com. Interested in the "digital identity" phenomenon, with special attention to the right to privacy and protection of personal data.

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