Jailbreaking a device evokes fear in many of us. But jailbreaking your iPhone or iPad is not dangerous or even illegal. Last year the the Library of Congress ruled that circumventing digital protections should be exempt from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Apple is clear that it doesn’t want you to jailbreak their devices, but it’s really not their device any more.
What are the advantages of jailbreaking? You can run software on your iPad or iPhone that hasn’t been approved by Apple, like a superior e-mail client or browser. For its part, Apple is committed to an error-free user experience, and locking down the OS ensures that unapproved third-party products won’t compromise performance or security. Thus, Apple won’t support a jailbroken iOS.
One obstacle you face when jailbreaking is the relative complexity which involves backing up data, downloading an app that exactly corresponds to your iOS, and working through a wizard and menus to install Cydia, the app that does the jailbreaking. Most users who’ve bought the an iPhone aren’t computer savvy. The average user who’s just spent $800 for an iPad may be afraid of making a mistake that Apple won’t help fix.
Now, jailbreaking has become easier. There’s at least one website, Jailbreakme, that provides an exploit in a PDF that allows developers to modify the OS. (We’re not linking to it because it may not be a safe site.)
Of course, this raises security concerns about iOS. For all its talk of security and vetting software, an exploit in an approved app will allow the OS to be modified. Couldn’t that same exploit be on a link on a website that doesn’t advertise jailbreaking?
Comex, the author of the jailbreak apps, says:
“Along with the patch, I am releasing a patch for the main vulnerability which anyone especially security conscious can install to render themselves immune; due to the nature of iOS, this patch can only be installed on a jailbroken device. Until Apple releases an update, jailbreaking will ironically be the best way to remain secure.”