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Apple’s Jailbreak Detection Disabled

Posted by zduncan | Posted in Computer, Device | Posted on 15-12-2010

Tags: , , ,


Jailbreak iPhoneAccording to an insider report, Apple has apparently, and quietly, disabled their jailbreak detection API through the iOS 4.2 software less than six months after introducing it.

The report comes from Network World, who says that the API, which came out in June as a part of an MDM (mobile device management) bundle for iOS 4.0, has officially been disabled in iOS 4.2. Apple is free to do what they want, but this turn of events has left vendors asking why?

The API had allowed third-party mobile device management applications to check for unauthorized modifications to the system files, according to John Cox. Third-party mobile device management vendors had created their own utilities that allowed them to check for jailbreaks. However, Apple’s jailbreak detection API granted mobile device management applications direct access to iOS system information.

According to Sybase Vice President of Engineering Joe Owen, “We used it when it was available, but as an adjunct. I’m not sure what motivated their removing that…..I’ve not had anyone (at enterprise customer sites) talk to me about this API being present or being removed.”

Even though jailbreaking an Apple device voids its warranty completely, the U.S. Government just recently legalized the process through a bunch of exemptions to preexisting laws that used to forbid it.

Apple, on the other hand, has refused to play along with the hackers. As vulnerabilities are discovered and explored by hackers throughout the world, Apple is furiously rushing to patch the problems all while the hackers are moving on to the next flaw to exploit.

Back in August, some hackers released a high publicity browser-based  jailbreak for the iPhone 4. This drew a lot of attention to a glaring security flaw that could have exposed a lot of users to malicious software just by visiting the website.

Security Consultant Jeremy Allen told John Cox of Network World, “Whatever Apple adds in the OS to detect the jailbreak, if it is to be queried from the iOS kernel, it must be accessible and have the ability to be changed. Meaning, if it is going to be a useful detection method it can also be circumvented. It is a fairly intractable problem to solve 100%.”

It is no surprise that the use of jailbreaking to pirate App Store software is a major concern for Apple and its developers. Apple’s relationship with carriers is also at stake here, carriers who often sell iPhones locked to their networks.

In the United States the iPhone is only available through AT&T, for now, with Verizon expected to be selling the device early next year.

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