Jailbreaking lets you install non-official software on a locked device. By jailbreaking, the device owner can access the OS root and all features. It’s called jailbreaking because it removes perceived restrictions.
What is jailbreaking?
Most people refer to jailbreaking the iPhone, the most “locked down” mobile device. Early iPhones had no app store and fewer iOS options. The first iPhone was only available on AT&T in the US, so users needed a jailbroken iPhone for other carriers.
Learn if iPhone jailbreaking is worth it and how to fix a jailbroken iPhone in this video:
Apple’s ‘walled garden’ software has always contrasted with Android’s customization. Many jailbreakers want Android-like iOS. Jailbreaking lets users install unapproved apps and customize the interface.
Since its inception, jailbreaking has involved adapting phone and game console codes. It can mean installing custom mobile software or removing movie DRM. It usually refers to Apple products. The iPad and iPod Touch can be jailbroken.
Jailbreaking is sometimes confused with “cracking” (software) and “rooting” (phones). Rooting removes manufacturer protections to install alternative mobile operating systems, like a jailbreak. Many people jailbreak Amazon Firesticks, Roku streaming boxes, and Nintendo Switches to run media software and emulated games instead of the built-in apps.
A jailbroken iPhone or iPad can use the App Store without affecting its core features. Jailbroken devices download apps Apple rejected or use jailbreaking features from independent app stores. After jailbreaking iOS devices, Cydia, a storefront, is most popular.
Hacking forums and sites offer free jailbreak codes to promote unrestricted device use. Although technical knowledge is helpful, most jailbreaks include full instructions and desktop tools to apply the new code.
Sometimes jailbreaking is “tethered” or “untethered”:
- Tethered jailbreaks require an on iOS device and computer. Jailbreaking the iPhone requires a computer and software.
- Untethered jailbreaks : Jailbreaks without computers. Everything needed to jailbreak iPhone is on it. Booting off a computer doesn’t jailbreak it.
Since iPhone apps have OS access, jailbreaking is less popular. Apple publicly opposes jailbreaking, so it has fixed jailbreak vulnerabilities in hardware and software, making many iOS versions hard to jailbreak.
Is jailbreaking safe?
Phone jailbreaking is legal but risky. Online criminals can hack jailbroken phones.
Jailbreaking your phone abandons Apple security. Side-loaded apps are unsafe in Apple’s App Store because it doesn’t screen them. Jailbreaking your phone disables iOS updates, including security updates, leaving you vulnerable to new threats.
Apple prohibits jailbreaking iOS and warns users of risks, including:
- Security holes
- Stability issues
- Possible freezes, crashes
- Shorter battery life
Apple discourages iPhone and iOS device jailbreaking. iPhone viruses are rare and usually caused by jailbreaking. Jailbreaking voids your warranty, so fix phone issues.
You should also consider phone ownership and content. Does your boss own the phone? Your work email linked? Your data and company are at risk from malware. Your company is vulnerable to cyberattacks from jailbroken phones.
Companies that give employees mobile devices usually protect company data. Locking down phones to allow certain features, updating devices and apps, and installing a mobile device agent to detect jailbroken phones are examples.
Pros and cons of jailbreaking
Increased device control Apple aims for a unified design. If that’s too restrictive, jailbreak your phone to add icons, wallpapers, and menus. Instead of Apple or anyone else, you become full device administrator. Install screensavers or icons on your iPhone home screen. Jailbreaking allows you to connect your iPad to your PC and control what you see and do by allowing file system access and device communication.
Install and use unauthorized apps
Apple removes App Store apps for security. Jailbreaking installs non-App Store apps. The most popular jailbroken phone storefront, Cydia, lets you install games and networking apps. Also banned from Apple’s app store are retro gaming emulators, which let you play older computer games for free. However, Cydia provides them free.
Remove pre-installed apps
You can’t change or delete iOS’s default apps like Apple Watch, Weather, Games Center, etc. Non-users dislike these apps’ memory usage. Replace Apple’s default apps with third-party ones with jailbreaking. Siri can use Google Maps instead of Apple Maps for directions.
Extra anti-theft features
Some jailbreakers say it boosts anti-theft. Find My iPhone doesn’t work in airplane mode, off, or offline. The jailbreak app iCaughtU claims to outperform Find My iPhone. The front-facing camera emails the owner a photo of a thief who enters the wrong passcode.
Cons of jailbreaking
Apple will stop automatic updates. Each iOS version requires the jailbreaking community’s hack. Since jailbreaking each iOS version takes time, you can’t update your jailbroken phone until the latest update is jailbroken. Major updates may make jailbreaking difficult.
Problem updating software
Several unauthorized modifications have rendered iPhones inoperable after iOS updates.
Voiding phone warranty
The iOS end-user software license agreement prohibits unauthorized iOS modifications. Unauthorized software may prevent Apple from servicing an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. If your jailbroken device breaks, Apple may deny repairs.
Shorter battery life
Hacked software drains iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch batteries faster.
Your phone could brick
Bricked phones cannot boot, respond to input, or make calls. Jailbreaking does not brick the phone, but it poses risks.
Content or services may disappear
Due to the loss of iCloud, iMessage, FaceTime, Apple Pay, Weather, and Stocks, jailbreaking a phone for more content can backfire. Third-party apps using Apple Push Notification Service have had trouble receiving notifications or received notifications from hacked devices. Push services like iCloud and Exchange have server synchronization issues. Third-party providers may block jailbroken devices.
Your phone may crash more
Your jailbroken iPhone or iPad may crash more. Jailbroken apps can access features and APIs Apple-approved apps cannot, so they may not be tested. The device may crash frequently, freeze built-in and third-party apps, and lose data.
Unreliable voice and data
Jailbreaking can cause dropped calls, unreliable data, and inaccurate location data.
Hackers accessed 225,000 jailbreakers’ iCloud accounts. Security vulnerabilities in jailbreaking allowed hackers to hack devices.
Security can be compromised
iOS is one of the most secure mobile operating systems because it’s closed to protect your data and system. Jailbreaking your phone increases hackers’ chances of stealing data, damaging it, attacking your network, or installing malware, spyware, or viruses.
Security risks of jailbreaking
Security risks arise from jailbreaking phones. Jailbreak gives you more device control, but apps get more control. These apps requesting root access pose the greatest security risks. Malware can gain root access to all data.
Jailbreaking bypasses Apple’s “walled garden”. Because jailbroken phones bypass Apple’s app vetting, viruses and malware are more likely. Jailbreaking allows free app and game piracy. This means you trust app developers over Apple.
Jailbroken iPhones can compromise bank account, password, and social media data. This risk was highlighted by KeyRaider, which stole 225,000 Apple IDs and thousands of certificates, private keys, and purchasing receipts. The victims reported abnormal app purchases and ransomware-locked phones.
Jailbroken Malware and bugs can crash iPhones and disable important features. Smartphones raise mobile crime risk. You must monitor new threats and scams and install comprehensive mobile security.