What is Jailbreaking?

What is Jailbreaking?

Jailbreaking has nothing to do with prisons, at least not on jailbreaking.com. It is a term that is linked to the process that allows iPhone and iPod Touch users to run any code on their devices other than those originally created by Apple. In other words, it is actually a hacking process for these Apple devices, and some may prefer to call it an unlocking process.

Once jailbroken, users may download many applications previously unavailable through the App Store, and there are many unofficial installers. Popular ones include Cydia, Rock App, Icy (closed since 24 October 2009) and Installer (discontinued).  Some users may even look for illegal pirated applications.

The desire to jailbreak an iPhone or an iPod is greater than normal hacking of computers and CPUs because of its exclusivity.  Apple has a remarkable reputation with the Mac, and while its performance is superb, users need to pay premium prices for original license for software.  There is a limited profile too, since not all software are built with Apple’s architecture in mind.

As Apple makes its products more affordable to the public (Apple’s Mac was somewhat an exclusive for designers and publishers when it first started), the desire to jailbreak becomes higher. When iPhone and iPod are out in the market for the masses, many people start to challenge its security and release these gadgets from the strict control of the big company.

History of Jailbreaking

The first jailbreak happened on 10 July 2007 to provide a way to use custom ringtones. Following this is a 6 August 2007 release of the first third-party game for iPhone and iPod Touch. On 10 October, another iPhone jailbreaking method was discovered, just a mere 3 months after the original iPhone was released.  This started a game between Apple and the jailbreakers, in which Apple patch up security holes and the jailbreakers exploit them further.  Eventually, jailbreakers released a tool to permanently jailbreak iPhone with OS 1.0.

Apple thought that this problem could be solved with OS 2.0, but the jailbreakers kept up with a jailbreaking application called Pwnage Tool with a graphical user interface (GUI).  These jailbreakers called themselves the iPhone Dev Team. Until now, the iPhone Dev Team has successfully jailbroken the iPod Touch 2G, iPhone OS 3.0 and iPhone OS 3.1.

One of the iPhone Dev Team also teamed up with Chronic Dev Team members to create a new jailbreak for iPod Touch 2G, an untethered rough patch that was implemented into a GUI on April 2009. This happened when the team member, planetbeing, made redsn0w based on QuickPwn sources.

Another jailbreaker, geohot, released the tool blackra1n which allows jailbreaking of all iPhones and iPod touch devices running on iPhone OS 3.1.2.  He also released RC3, an update that was able to jailbrea the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, and a tethered jailbreak on the iPod Touch 3G 8GB model. Geohot, whose real name is George Hotz, also released blacksn0w, which is an unlocking application for the iPhone, which was capable of unlocking the latest baseband version, 5.11.07.

What happens to a jailbroken device?

The best reasons to jailbreak your iPhone or iPod Touch is to be able to download many applications that are not available through the App Store.  Usually these applications are by unofficial installers such as Cydia, Rock App, Icy (closed since 24 October 2009) and Installer (discontinued).  It is distinct from SIM unlocking, which means that the mobile phone will accept any SIM without restrictions on the country or network operator origin.

However, Apple says that a jailbroken device voids its warranty on the device. This is however, quickly remedied by restoring the device in iTunes.

There is also a chance for viruses and worms to invade easily on a jailbroken device. The first iPhone worm was created by 21-year-old student, Ashley Towns of Wollongong.  The Australian technical college student who released this worm in early November 2009 told the Australian media that the worm, called iKee, was created to raise awareness of security issues.

Although the worm is harmless, the source code can become the basis for more malicious code.  Since then, many viruses were released, and they did more than just changing the users wallpaper to Rick Astley in the iKee. Shortly on 22 November 2009, F-Secure reported a new malicious worm that compromised bank transactions from jailbroken phones in the Netherlands.


Even though there is the possibility to collect viruses/worms, you have about the same chance of getting one on your computer. With that said, the reward of jailbreaking is far better than the risk. Once you jailbreak your device, you open up a whole new world, one that provides your device with infinite, themes, tweaks, and apps that are not available in the App Store.

Coming from someone who has had jailbroken devices for about three years, I highly recommend jailbreaking. You’ll free your device from the chains that Apple has placed on it.

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