back to article The battle of Cupertino: Jailbreakers do it for freedom, not cash

A team of seven Chinese hackers are forgoing big bucks and instead pursuing their effort to open Apple to the security research field and thereby allow users to modify their devices. The group of brilliant independent security boffins known as Pangu Team are among the top researchers in the iDevice jailbreaking scene, where …

  1. Quortney Fortensplibe

    That Group Photo...

    ...gives the lie to Dabbsy's ridiculous claims about Hollywood's portrayal of hackers.

    Not an Iron Maiden T-shirt in sight!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That Group Photo...

      Forget about pissing in a bottle, the one in the green T-shirt looks like he's progressed on to number twos.

      1. Fungus Bob Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        AC, you owe me

        see icon --------------------->

  2. Richard Boyce

    Many heads are better

    I imagine that Apple is quietly very happy with the free scrutiny that their code is being given.

    1. CaptainBanjax

      Re: Many heads are better

      Their code isnt getting any scrutiny. Its not open source.

      1. Richard Boyce

        Re: Many heads are better

        It's Apple's object code that's getting the scrutiny. A lot harder, but they're getting results which Apple are using to improve the source code.

  3. Detective Emil
    Paris Hilton

    Huh?

    … without a jailbreak you are not able to do any advanced security study …

    Seems a bit circular: "Because it's secure, we can't study its security". Besides, I would have thought that attempting to find a jailbreak came under the heading of "security study".

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Huh?

      I see what you mean, but the reality is closer to "Because we haven't found a way in yet doesn't mean nobody has found a way in yet". There may be security vulnerabilities that don't rely upon Jailbreaking.

  4. Mondo the Magnificent
    Thumb Up

    The "Jailbreak game"

    When I got my mitts on an iPhone 4, the first thing I did was jailbreak the fucker!

    Enter Cydia, the Pandora's Box of Apps.. it was great, I could change the entire look and feel of the phone as well as run Windows 95, Telnet, Bluetooth file transfer, and play Quake (original) on it too... to name just a few of the great Apps that were for offer on Cydia.

    Then came the updates, then a new jailbreak, then an update... and the war went on between the jailbreakers and Apple.

    In the end, I had to settle for a "tethered jailbreak" where the cable had to be connected to the computer in order to invoke the jailbreak, but if you power cycled the phone.. back to Apple's ring fenced IOS..

    I have to admire the jailbreak teams, endlessly committed to their debauchery against Apple's IOS factory offerings. It's great that these guys and girls still tirelessly continue to find a workaround to Apple's "limitations" but, jailbreaking isn't for everyone.

    Most people I know with Apple handsets / tablets have never done a jailbreak, the whole process of updating the OS with 'modified code' scares the bejezus out of most everyday iPhone users.

    It's the younger and tech savvy people who embark in this process, even ignoring IOS updates, pending a jailbreak solution being available for the newest IOS release.

    The jailbreaks do offer the "freedom" some seek from Apple's App Store Apps and Cydia's offerings also require a level of common sense, as in: Beware of what's out there!

    All I can say is: Keep on jailbreaking guys and girls!

    [Confession: I am now an Android phone and tablet user. My other half still owns and lover her iPhone dearly, but she will not let me jailbreak it.. ]

  5. W Donelson

    I am completely in favour...

    ... of Jailbreakers hacking their iThings.

    1) It allows new ideas to be presented to Apple and the community.

    2) It tests methods of penetration and security holes.

    3) It creates a community for those with different ideas about mobile device usage

    4) I would never do it to my iThings, but I am happy that others (carefully, I hope) do.

  6. roeltz

    "Wang and XiaoBo say they like Google's Android operating system saying it is catching up to the quality of iOS, and plan to begin working on developing exploits for that platform."

    Well, it seems they are lowering their aspirations.

  7. Permidion

    phone jailbreaking is just for fun

    if you dont want to be annoyed by closed source product, buy an open source one instead, and, oh surprise, there is one: Jolla with SailfishOS.

    maybe also FirefoxOS, though I havent heard much about it lately

  8. pxd
    Thumb Up

    Jailbreak - not just for the young

    I have a number of iDevices. Most are kept in the Apple Walled Garden, but I had to jailbreak one device just to run a Wi-Fi sniffer, which Apple, in their infinite wisdom, have decided We Shall Not Have. (How we are meant to deal with increasingly crowded and complex wireless networks with the limited tools available to ordinary users, I cannot imagine.) I am not particularly "tech savvy," as Mondo put it - not in El Reg terms; equally, though, I am not young. Thanks to Pangu and TAIG, jailbreaking is not rocket science - you just have to pick your moment and follow instructions. Upgrade one step too far, and it's back to waiting for the next exploit from the really clever boys and girls. pxd

    1. DryBones

      Re: Jailbreak - not just for the young

      Moto E or a laptop with appropriate app/software? Some routers (Cisco at least) also map the channel space. Ah well.

      1. pxd

        Re: Jailbreak - not just for the young

        Both good suggestions, DryBones - but I have neither of those items; just a trio of desktop PCs, several Internet radios, a Roku or two, and the handful of iDevices. I did think seriously about buying an Android phone just to host a sniffer app, but at the time, I didn't see the right device for sale without a connected phone service to pay for. My house has walls thick enough to cause all sorts of Wi-Fi dead spots, so the ability to walk around watching the signal come and go was one driver for me. Another was the signals I could see coming in from neighbours on all four sides, causing me to consider my channel assignments carefully. Finally, I added a couple of range extenders, and really wanted to see what they were actually doing - the little blue lights on the front of the extenders were pretty. but not terribly informative. pxd

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I, for one,

    Don't see any reason not to trust a bunch of unselfish Chinese hackers. What could possibly go wrong? :-)

  10. Bob Dole (tm)
    Coat

    I don't jailbreak my device

    I don't jailbreak my device. If I wanted a completely open eco system, I'd go Android.

    Personally, I like that Apple keeps a team employed which decides what is and isn't available via the app store. It means that I don't have to worry if that new photo app is surreptitiously uploading everything about me to some unknown website. Yes, this means that I'm willing to trade a little bit of freedom for the safety of their walled garden.

    Obviously not everyone wants that. So, for them there is a choice: Android. Have fun with that hotbed of virus activity and constant swapping out of devices in order to run the latest OS. Some might think that's worth it: I don't.

    So, yea, thanks go to the jailbreaking team for doing the security research so that Apple can continue to plug holes.

    1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

      Re: I don't jailbreak my device

      Indeed. While I haven't felt the need to jailbreak any of my iTems or Androids (Why do you want to buy "X" if you don't like the UI and OS and immediately want to change them...?), the jailbreakers are providing a Darwinian service -- making OS makers stronger by forcing them to up their game in closing access points into their products.

    2. Suricou Raven

      Re: I don't jailbreak my device

      Android isn't completely open. It's a just a lot more open than iOS. You generally still don't get root access, which means certain classes of application cannot be installed (most notably firewall software), but rooting an android is usually easier than jailbreaking an iPhone.

  11. DougS Silver badge

    This is a good reason why Apple shouldn't offer a supported jailbreak

    If they did, these guys wouldn't be helping them secure it. I'm sure there are black hats (like the NSA and GCHQ) who work on finding their own ways in, but at least having someone publicly breaking in and thereby allowing Apple to close up the holes may make things more difficult for our spooky friends. And I'm sure we all agree that's a good thing (well except for the apologists who feel that trading freedom & privacy for the illusion of security is a good thing)

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