back to article Jailbreak hole in iOS 4.1 will be hard to close

Just hours after Apple released iOS 4.1 to great fanfare, hardware hackers found a way to jailbreak devices that run the new operating system. More surprising still, there doesn't appear to be anything Steve Jobs can do to stop them in the near future. The exploit in the boot ROM of iOS devices was first announced by iPhone …


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  1. Deadly_NZ
    Thumb Down

    Jailbreak hole in iOS 4.1 will be hard to close

    Oh dear it looks like it took 5 mins not 4 how inconvienient

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Are you sure...

    Are you sure you're not secret fanbois? You've managed to write 3 articles on 4.1 so far today.

    They could have all been rolled into one very easily, non of them were especially long!

    If you really aren't fanbois just remember there is no such thing as bad publicity.

    Come on, go find something else to write about...

    1. JaitcH

      At least he has the guts to use ...

      hia real name, unlock some people we know.

  3. Phil.A
    Jobs Horns

    I thought it was legal now...

    I remember seeing something that Jailbreaking was now meant to be legal on iPhones, with the whole "it's your property, so you can do what you want with it" theory.

    Apple know that the teams working to break the phones, so them trying to stop them is King Midas trying to stop the tide...

    1. RichyS

      Oh dear.

      Surely King Midas would just touch the sea, and it would turn to gold -- presumably solid -- thus stopping the tide.

      Or are you thinking of King Knut?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Euchrid

      re: I thought it was legal now

      It is in the United States – and what you’re referring to is a change to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Every three years, the US Copyright Office looks at the Act to consider changes.

      There were six main changes that legalised activities that you could be prosecuted for, two of which were:

      “ Computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications, when they have been lawfully obtained, with computer programs on the telephone handset.”

      “Computer programs, in the form of firmware or software, that enable used wireless telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telecommunications network, when circumvention is initiated by the owner of the copy of the computer program solely in order to connect to a wireless telecommunications network and access to the network is authorized by the operator of the network.”

      So this means it’s legal to jailbreak any phone to use (legally obtained) apps that you wouldn’t be able to normally access (e.g. non-App Store ones for the iPhone) or in order to use a different phone network.

      I would also say there were some rather major changes to the DMCA, such as it’s now legal to break DVD encryption in order to obtain short clips for the purposes of education or criticism.

      Going back to jailbreaking, I don’t think there’s any hard evidence that Apple is actively trying to stop this. It would be a waste of time as you say, but Apple has never taken action against the Hackintosh community or those that build these machines for personal use. The only people they have pursued for this type of thing in recent years were Psystar, a company that indulged in dodgy practices, including charging for open-source software produced by the Hackintosh community after they slapped on a GUI (which looked suspiciously like another freely available GUI). My own feelings is that Apple takes a similar line with jailbreaking.

      One thing I think worth remembering that although in the States, it’s legal to jailbreak this doesn’t mean that there are no bad consequences – although this hasn’t been challenged legally, jailbreaking will invalidate your iPhone warranty. However, it’s very difficult to brick your iPhone by jailbreaking and even if you do, you can restore it to it’s pre-jailbroken state by using… iTunes. I'm pretty sure (but happy to be corrected if wrong) that this didn't used to be the case.

    3. Annihilator

      Legal Schmlegal

      "I remember seeing something that Jailbreaking was now meant to be legal on iPhones, with the whole "it's your property, so you can do what you want with it" theory."

      It's legal, yes, but Apple isn't obliged to make it easy for you. What would be nicer was if locked down kit were *il*legal, but that's in dreamy dream land.

      1. Bill Gould
        Thumb Up

        Legal yes, and also required

        In Canukistan here, I can go into any cellular store buy any phone (on a contract or not) and request that they unlock it for me. They're required by law to do so. Love it.

        1. Chris 244
          Thumb Down

          Bill must be smoking something...

          If by Canukistan you mean Canada, feel free to request your shiny new phone be unlocked but be prepared to get laughed out of the store. There is no law requiring phone unlocking.

          There is a private member's bill before the House of Commons that proposes forcing carriers to unlock a phone at the END of a contract. However, said MP is a member of the NDP which holds a whopping 36 of 308 seats in our House of Commons. The bill will go nowhere.

          Facts, who needs them?

        2. Pablo

          RE: Legal yes, and also required

          Jailbreaking and unlocking are not the same thing. Unlocking refers to allowing use with any carrier, whereas jailbreaking means allowing the use of any software. Though at least at one time, jailbreaking was the only means of unlocking an iPhone, so in practice you may be correct.

  4. Rupert Stubbs

    Limited jailbreaking suits Apple just fine.

    I know it's impossible to talk about Apple without hysteria from one side or the other, but Apple/Steve Jobs have/has no interest in killing jailbreaking completely.

    Making life just tricky enough for jailbreakers - and with just enough acceptance that what they are doing is off-piste - means that Apple isn't held accountable for problems with their phones as a result, and yet keeps a large number of paying customers within the Apple fold.

    1. Neill Mitchell


      >>I know it's impossible to talk about Apple without hysteria from one side or the other, but >>Apple/Steve Jobs have/has no interest in killing jailbreaking completely.

      Do you know Jobs and asked him?

    2. Doug Glass

      Oh Really?

      And you know because you asked The Sacred J himself? Either that or you're some sort of mind reader. Oh wait, you ARE a mind reader and that makes you The Sacred J. How nice of you to grace the little people with your presence. Or is that omnipresence? Whatever ...

      1. RichyS
        Thumb Down

        @Doug & Neill

        And cue the hysteria...

        1. The Other Steve

          Really ?

          "And cue the hysteria"

          If you think people being asked for facts is "hysteria', perhaps the Internet is not best suited to your clearly delicate disposition.

    3. The Other Steve


      "I know it's impossible to talk about Apple without hysteria from one side or the other,"

      It might be if you tried using facts instead of supposition and bullshit, have you considered that ?

      " but Apple/Steve Jobs have/has no interest in killing jailbreaking completely."

      In your completely uninformed opinion, which you just made up and has absolutely zero basis in any kind of fact tat you can point to.

      "Making life just tricky enough for jailbreakers - and with just enough acceptance that what they are doing is off-piste - means that Apple isn't held accountable for problems with their phones as a result,"

      As a result of what ? Apple isn't responsible for your phone if you jailbreak it, because you just voided your warranty. You fuck with it, you own any problems you have with it. Same ad any piece of consumer electronics.

      " and yet keeps a large number of paying customers within the Apple fold."

      How large ? You mention a number, what is the number and where did you get it from ?

      If you're going to post such a declarative statement, you must surely have facts to back it up, where are they ?

      1. Paul M 1


        I've noticed a number of replies along the lines of "so you spoke to Steve Jobs personally then?".

        For these people, can I please make it clear that, as everyone else already realises, there is a tacit "In my opinion..." in front of all of these comments. So no, it doesn't matter if Jobs said it - the post is someone's comment or opinion.

        Can't believe I actually have to write this...

    4. Anonymous Coward

      I think it goes beyond that

      I Think Apple actually WANTS "jailbreak" on their iOS. They get free publicity and the number of users that actually JB are relatively few. So, why spend money trying to stop them? I think Apple's current approach is the best business model they have, at least for the moment.

  5. Puppeteer

    Maybe they aren't really trying to get it unbreakable?

    Locking down an embedded device properly is hard but not impossible - take a look at ADI's LockBox technology for the BlackFin.

    Maybe they aren't really trying to get it unbreakable?

    Make it hard enough to prevent 90% of the customers from churning, but leave a big enough hole so the other 10% buy and jailbreak the iPhone instead of going elsewhere.

    I suspect that plenty of useful iPhone apps are written by propeller heads who would have refused a buy one if it was unbreakable.

    If this was not intentional I really feel sorry for the guy who wrote the bootrom.

    An assignment like that can only ever end badly. If someone finds a hole you are toast, but even if it does not happen quickly you never know that it won't eventually. And the longer it takes to be broken the more prestigious it becomes and as a result you have an army of hackers attacking a few K of code written by a handful of developers working to a deadline they did not set.

    1. Doug Glass

      Marginal Costs

      The cost to make it 100% unbreakable is likely on the order of tens of times more costly to make it say, unbreakable for 99.99% of the population. But then what does that matter? Apple fanatics will pay whatever the cost simply because they will pay whatever the cost. Imagine what they could charge if The Sacred J actually spit on each one. Or maybe even ... well...wont go there.

      Oh the marketing potential! Record the various J sounds and have them available as ring tones and so forth. You know, coughs, hacks, spitting up a plug, farting. Just boggles the mind and to think they could probably surpass Microsoft in sales. Oh wait. they already did that for a nanosecond. They'd need to capture the sound of J having sex maybe. But then who cares about fap, fap, fap .... ?

  6. RichyS

    This is not a 5 min job.h

    What's the betting that the iPhone DevTeam have known about this exploit for some time know -- keeping their powder dry until Apple release the 4.1 update. By the sounds of it, they're satisfied that Apple won't be able to close the exploit in 4.2, so where happy to make use of it now.

    I wonder how many more exploits they have up their sleeves?

  7. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Jobs Horns

    Is this pretty much pointless?

    These hackers are doing good work and producing many a battering ram code to get into that walled garden.

    But do many of the fanboys actually want to leave that walled garden?

    1. Euchrid

      re: Interest in jailbreaking

      I think it’s fair to say that if someone looked at various iPhone threads (not just about jailbreaking itself), they would see that there is a fair bit of interest and a rather a lot iPhones have been jailbroken.

      It’s difficult to get an exact number, but a figure of 8-10% iPhones sold and then being jailbroken is usually punted.

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

        If 8-10% of iphones are jailbroken

        That number could be 98% and i'll bet Apple still won't open the iphone up so people don't have to jailbreak in the first place

        1. Euchrid


          What would be the incentive for so many people jailbreaking their phones?

          Most people I know who have jailbreaked have done so out of principle, or they want to add functionality (such as Open SSH) or a combination of both. The added functionality isn’t what I would consider to be a definite must for the average user, but is useful for specific usage.

          Jailbreaking iPhones is incredibly easy, doesn't destroy hardware, but if someone asked me if it was worth doing, I would say have a look at information and make up their own mind - because I can't see of one reason that would make it an automatic no-brainer.

          1. The Other Steve


            you do realise that there are a multitude of SSH apps available in the app store, don't you ?

            1. asdf Silver badge
              Thumb Down

              for free?

              Paying for openssh just because you are forced to only play in Apples' garden is the reason people laugh at Appletards.

  8. Bilgepipe


    Fascinating. *yawn* I jailbroke my iPod for kicks. It was even more unstable, and the famed Cydia looked like it was written by someone in their bedroom, and crashed like it, too. And judging by the number of ads (hilariously including ones showing Windows 95-style alert boxes) I think it's easy to see what the idea behind these generous hackers really is - grabbing some revenue of their own.

    Don't know what the jailbreaking fuss is about.

  9. lebeau

    May I?

    May I be the first to christen.... The Godel Phone?!

    1. Annihilator
      Thumb Down

      re: Zzzzzzzzz

      What?? You mean those hackers are keen on an environment where they don't have to pass 30% of the takings direct to Apple? And they're keen on using the hardware to its full potential and not just whatever API/functionality/name that Apple approve of? They don't want to take the risk that their work can be deemed suddenly unacceptable due to a new name Apple come up with or functionality they change their mind about with no notice at all?

      The dirty, thieving, unreasonable barstewards...

      I on the other hand, have just jailbroken mine, largely because I know what will happen if I put 4.x on a 3G - it will become unusable, regardless of Apple's promises to make it better in the future. So why not leave it on 3.x? Because the vulnerabilities (like the PDF exploit) don't get patched if you stick to 3.x. It's 4.x and crap performance, or 3.x and vulnerabilities. I took hidden option C and I'm happy with it. The (paid for, happy to do it) SBCategories app is a much sleeker solution than the Apple folders too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Erm, you have actually seen performance tests of 4.1 on a 3G?

        1. Annihilator

          re: Yawn

          Yes I have seen the performance tests - of 4.1 vs 4.0. It's better than 4.0, but that's not difficult - it's like preferring a hammer to the thumb than a hammer to the scrotum.

          To wit, from the same article: "we're still not sure it's a big enough improvement that 3G owners will want to ditch iOS 3"

          They've run the wrong test - it's 4.1 vs 3.x that most 3G owners would care about. And for the poor sods who didn't realise you can downgrade (because it's not exactly easy), it doesn't really make up for 3 months of piss-poor performance.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Never had

            the piss-poor performance on my 3G.

            Even with 4.01.

            One who did just went /settings/general/home-button/spotlight-search and then unticked everything.

            Back to normal: In an untick

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    if they add functionality to allow me to use my own message tones

    I'll be more than happy to stop jailbreaking it.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Calm down dear...

    Three articles on iOS4.1 and clearly you've read them all despite not being an Apple owner or fan, genius logic there. Wonder why they write so many? Might be because so many Apple @AC The reason El Reg posts so many Apple articles is that haters like yourself keep reading and posting on them!! Take a look at any Blackberry or Rim article and you'll see its in the main people who are actually interested in reading about them rather than sad trolls like yourself who post comments on them.

    Anyways.. most folk I know that have jailbroken their phones have done it just because they can, not because its really of any great benefit.

    @Annihilator.. how dare Apple charge money for hosting, distribution, testing, advertising etc.. shocking huh? The cheek of them.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Yo ho ho

      The people I know who jail-break iOS and Andriod do so simply because then they can pirate software; although they're happy to pay three quid for a cup-of-coffee twice a day they don't want to pay even 79p for Apps.

  12. JaitcH
    Jobs Horns

    Stevie, boy, who has the ...

    sharpest programming skills for iOS?

    Obviously, not you.

    P.S. When will the antenna be fixed, properly? How's the white version coming?

  13. Anonymous Coward


    glad I ditched my iPhone for a Galaxy S. lol, iTards :-)

    1. Aaron 10
      Jobs Halo


      Make sure you don't download those malware applications on the Android app store. There ARE advantages to the "walled garden"...

      1. M Gale

        Walled Garden?

        Is that the same app store that allowed a tethering app in disguised as a flashlight app?

        Wonder what other Apple-approved apps are hiding stuff?

      2. Miek

        Big 'Ol

        FUDdy duddy

    2. My New Handle

      Lets see how glad you'll be when

      Samsung do their usual stuff and don't bother to offer an update to the Android OS.

      You're going to have to try very much harder than that, sunshine.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    ..history shows..

    ..that trying to lock of the hax0rs doesnt work. through the 16bit gaming era countless companies spent way too much time, money and effort on copy protection systems. all of them got done in by random euro junkies. of course, the Mac was around in that era...but so seperated from that world that I guess they [Apple] didnt learn anything.

    quit trying to keep it 'secure' and spent time/effort on the things users want...and deal with the issues that make users to want to jail-break the device in the first place!

    I've ditched the iPhone platform and now run Android - Samsung Galaxy S right now

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not so separated from the 'scene' as you may think

      "of course, the Mac was around in that era...but so seperated from that world that I guess they [Apple] didnt learn anything"

      Mac Playmate - mid-late 80s game for the Mac and one of the most pirated games of its era on any platform. But that's pr0n for ya ;)

    2. The Other Steve

      quit trying to keep it 'secure' ????

      Yeah, that is /absolutely/ what I want in a phone, an OS whose developers don't care about security.

      1. asdf Silver badge

        why apple loves sheeple

        Yes because after all DRM that controls your customer is necessary to secure a computer environment for the users own "good". Apple is getting like Sony in that they only consider software/hardware defects an emergency if they allow the user to do something cool that doesn't make the shareholders even richer. If it exposes the user to more danger or hassle who cares as long as they can't run free homebrew apps on THEIR hardware. Note to Sony requiring me (or no online gaming) to download 200 meg system patches for my PS3 every few days just to defeat the usb dongle people and to punt your own 3D TVs is really starting to get old (have you fixed the leap year bug yet, no oh great).

  15. John 104

    Much ado about nothing...

    Sure you can fiddle with your phone, "jailbreak" it so you can do whatever you want. Or you could stop being a fashion nugget and buy a droid or winmo phone. Hell, even winmo 6.0 was open.

  16. Keith Doyle

    Apple's motivations...

    There's probably a couple of reasons that Jobs + Apple are motivated to block jailbreaking.

    1- The AT&T contract probably requires it, as they are the ones with the most to lose. A jailbroken phone can run homebrew apps and features that they don't get a piece of. And features they might not want you to have, such as tethering or unmetered phone calls, or downloading media from unapproved sources, whatever, need to be blocked.

    2 - Apple doesn't want potentially buggy iPhones out there, as it reflects badly on them even if wasn't their fault. The whole reason that Apple products are more stable than, say Microsoft's, is Apple has complete control over the hardware, and significant control over the software. Hack-apps that were to catch on but either are buggy themselves, or aggravate bugs in iOS, can make Apple look bad-- and of course, to Steve Jobs, image is everything, just like with any other narcissist.

    The only question is, can they do it, can they really lock out jailbreaking? The answer is probably yes, eventually, though it could easily require a hardware upgrade or two before they get there.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Arggg Jim lad

      3 - Attempt to protect developers of Paid Apps from freetards pirates.

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. Witty username
    Thumb Up

    Simple solution

    Let people jailbreak it, when it goes wrong - tough shit, buy a new one.


    1. Stuart Elliott
      Thumb Down


      Just restore back to factory defaults, and jailbreak it again.

      Buy a new one.. Erm, no, muppet.

      1. Player_16
        Paris Hilton

        Willy has...

        wealthy parents or he lives at home.

  19. John Edwards

    Why The Fuss?

    For my part Mr Jobs can impose what conditions he likes on the people who buy his shiny new phone, not least that they have to hold it in the approved Jobbsian manner before it will work. I too have conditions like leaving my credit card in my pocket when something is too much money for not enough utility which is why I just spent £14.20 on a new phone in the Vodaphone shop. No hacking skills needed. Hold it how you like. It just works.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      depends on your point of view

      "when something is too much money for not enough utility"

      If you haven't got a lot of money, then it's too much.

      If, however, you have lots more money than you need, it's a snip.

      1. My New Handle

        I thought so ...

        "If, however, you have lots more money than you need, it's a snip."

        Which is precisely why I bought one each for all the family. "I'm sorry, we only have the 32GB model" offered the Apple store salesperson. "I should damn well hope so" said I.

        £20 for your handset? Don't bother me with your reverse-snobbishness. There's nothing great in being poor. Deal with it.

        1. 42


          Because one does not want to own the most overated mobile ever and chooses to buy a

          phone that is primarily designed to work as a phone, properly unlike the iphone does not mean they are poor, just not a mindless yuppie with more money than brainswho buys whatever is fashionable.

        2. Anonymous Coward

          RE: I thought so ...

          Your attitude is pretty much a perfect example of the irritating "Elitism" surrounding any new technology, or a technology with such a "Fanboy" following.

          I don't like the i-Life, but at the same time, I at least acknowledge it's probably ideal for some people who just want "It works, I don't care" and are happy to follow a fad.

          I'm happy with my 2 year old phone, 3 year old PC, not because I'm poor, but they serve me just fine, and I don't have the screaming impulse to upgrade to the next shiny thing as soon as it comes out.

          I'd rather the rest of the meat beta-test the crap first, and sit there happy in the knowledge my devices are reliable, and "Just Work" too.

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