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Should you jailbreak an iPhone: Is jailbreaking good for an iPhone or iPad? Is jailbreaking safe? The pros and cons of iOS jailbreaking

Rob Mead-Green | Sept. 7, 2015
For millions of happy users all over the world, the iPhone is fantastic just as it is. It's beautiful, elegant and easy to use, and there are thousands upon thousands of apps and oodles of content for them to choose on the App Store.

It must be stressed that this sort of breach is not a common occurrence. But this is a timely reminder that the restrictions placed by Apple on its devices serve to improve their security as well as to limit your choices of third-party apps. Following the KeyRaider breach, many prospective jailbreakers will be thinking long and hard about whether it's worth the increased risk or (at the very least) paying more attention to security in future.

Oh, and in a separate but related matter, a second recent breach confirmed that jailbroken devices are easier for governmental bodies to tap into. As my colleague Glenn Fleishman puts it:

"iOS users should therefore take note that the long-running concern that jailbroken iPhones and iPads were susceptible to vulnerabilities that could include access by so-called state actors appears to be confirmed by the data breach."

What does Apple say about jailbreaking?

Apple is, as you might imagine, firmly opposed to jailbreaking. Apple frequently updates the iOS software to remove any jailbreak software from the iPhone, and is constantly updating iOS to prevent jailbreaking techniques from working.

Part of this is to protect its commercial interests. Apple runs the software store so it wants you to keep using the store. And developers spend time making software and want to get paid.

But there are other concerns: Apple wants the iPhone system to remain secure on the whole, and jailbreaking can threaten that. Apple identifies these concerns:

  • Security: jailbreaking removes the security layers on your iPhone
  • Instability: jailbreaking causes an iPhone to behave erratically
  • Shortened battery life: jailbreaking apps and services may not run correctly which may drain your battery
  • Unreliable voice and data
  • Disruption of services: Services such as Visual Voicemail, Weather and Stocks have been disrupted. iCloud, Exchange and Apple Push notification all suffer (according to Apple) on a jailbroken devices
  • Inability to update. Because Apple frequently removes jailbroken software in its updates, many jailbroken phones do not update. This can result it you running an out-of-date phone.

How do I jailbreak an iPhone?

If you're interesting in jailbreaking and you typically install a program on Mac OS X that does it for you. There are two main options available:

Conclusion: Should you jailbreak an iPhone or iPad?

As we've hopefully spelled out above, there is plenty to be said for and against jailbreaking your iPhone or iPad. On the one hand, you'll be able to customise your device in ways you never thought possible, download far more apps, and even get ahead of the curve by enjoying features and functionality that Apple simply hasn't included in iOS yet. On the other hand, there are all kinds of - often very legitimate - reasons why you should just let your iPhone be, not least of which is the danger of another security breach.


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