The Unrealized Dangers of Jailbreaking

Jailbreaking is very popular for iPhone users as it unlocks the iPhone’s full potential. As iPhone users (and possible Android users) know, jailbreaking enables root access for the phone and bypass limitations set by Apple.

iOS, the operating system behind the iPhone, is based off of the UNIX operating system, which is the OS that Mac OS and Linux are based off of. In UNIX, the root account is similar to the administrator account in Windows; it has complete read and write access to all files on the system. Having root access on an iPhone would mean virtually limitless possibilities; custom 3rd party themes not endorsed by Apple could be applied, applications not on Apple’s App Store can be installed, and system files can be tweaked to alter the functionality of the OS. Obviously, the limitless possibilites an iPhone user could have with jailbreaking would tempt them to jailbreak their phone.

Unfortunately, most people do not know what jailbreaking is on a technical level. While enabling access to the root account allows the altering of the system files that themes the OS, it also enables a huge security flaw in which hackers can use the root account and install viruses. The exploit that was discovered was that the most popular jailbreaking tools installed an SSH terminal that was automatically enabled and that the root account password was set to a default value of “alpine”. While this allows the user to access their phone from their computer, it also allowed hackers to access the phone, especially since the jailbreaking tool did not ask the user to change the root account password.

Many users today still do not know about this flaw and are at risk of being hacked through it. However, this does not mean jailbreaking is completely unsafe; ways to defend against this hack include disabling SSH or changing the root account password.


One thought on “The Unrealized Dangers of Jailbreaking

  1. This is a really huge security issue. In the day and age where us the users continually rely on our mobile phones to replace our home computers, we constantly see different cellphone companies try to “out do” each other with extra features and customizability. Being able to be offered an endless array of “tweaks”, applications and themes is appealing to the user and they blindly connect their iPhones and HTC devices to a computer, google a program that’ll “jailbreak” or “root” their devices, just so that they can save some money or have the coolest wallpapers. Blindly installing and trusting a program you found on the internet isn’t considered “secure”. Have to keep in mind that there is no virus protection for a phone.

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