Thursday, August 17, 2017 [Tweets] [Favorites]

The Life, Death, and Legacy of iPhone Jailbreaking

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai and Brian Merchant (via Zac Cichy):

The world’s first jailbreaking step-by-step procedure, discovered in 2007, was posted online for all to see. Subsequent jailbreaks were used by millions of people. At one point, there was even a website—called jailbreakme.com—that was free for all to use and jailbroke your phone simply by visiting it.

[…]

Things, however, have changed. The jailbreaking community is fractured, with many of its former members having joined private security firms or Apple itself. The few people still doing it privately are able to hold out for big payouts for finding iPhone vulnerabilities. And users themselves have stopped demanding jailbreaks, because Apple simply took jailbreakers’ best ideas and implemented them into iOS.

[…]

“What do you get in the end?” he asks. “It used to be that you got killer features that almost were the reason you owned the phone. And now you get a small minor modification.”

“That turns into, like, a death spiral, where when you get fewer people bothering to jailbreak you get fewer developers targeting interesting things, which means there’s less reasons for people to jailbreak,” he added. “Which means there’s fewer people jailbreaking, which causes there to be less developers bothering to target it. And then you slowly die.”

Update (2017-10-16): Tim Jackson:

Here is an admission in black and white that prominent members of the jailbreaking community are giving up on attacking iOS devices. Apple created a system where their engineers, like soldiers in a castle under siege, were able to outlast the besieging army; throwing back assault after assault, until the attackers, deciding the siege was no longer worthwhile, packed up and headed home.

Ten years ago, finding a jailbreak was fairly doable, though it required skill. As iOS jailbreaks became harder to find, however, they became more valuable. Zerodium publicly announced it would pay $1 million, now increased to $1.5 million, for a remote jailbreak flaw (e.g. remote code execution) on iOS. This effectively priced the jailbreak community out of the market for iOS vulnerabilities. Markets only assign commodities such value when they are rare and difficult to obtain. If somehow you remain unconvinced, consider that the last publicly available untethered (e.g. persistent across reboots) jailbreak was discovered over a year ago, and was part of the government-quality attack tool Pegasus. The current generation of jailbreaks require the user to run a jailbreak app every time they reboot.

1 Comment

Or maybe iPhone had become simply boring.

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