Apple has posted a support document targeting iPhone jailbreaking, noting that "unauthorized modification of iPhone OS has been a major source of instability, disruption of services, and other issues," including compromised security. That’s a little slice from an Apple Insider article on a new (or newly modified) Apple Support document that sets out to outline […]
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Apple’s Support Article on Jailbreaking the iPhone

Apple has posted a support document targeting iPhone jailbreaking, noting that "unauthorized modification of iPhone OS has been a major source of instability, disruption of services, and other issues," including compromised security.

That’s a little slice from an Apple Insider article on a new (or newly modified) Apple Support document that sets out to outline the risks of jailbreaking the iPhone (and its fellow iPhone platform devices) – and the numerous problems that can occur after a jailbreak.

The thing is, nearly all the issues listed are things that could easily occur (and have) on stock, non-jailbroken iPhones.

Here’s the Summary portion of the support doc:

Summary
This article is about adverse issues experienced by customers who have made unauthorized modifications to the iPhone OS (this hacking process is often called "jailbreaking"). Issues that have been encountered include instability, disruption of services, and compromised security.

The article goes on to offer a list of ‘issues caused by these unauthorized modifications to the iPhone OS‘.  Here is that list – with some comments of mine in italics below some of them:

Device and application instability: Frequent and unexpected crashes of the device, crashes and freezes of built-in apps and third-party apps, and loss of data.

I’ve seen plenty of this on iPhones that are running stock, and iPhones that have never been jailbroken. Just one recent example, on my stock iPad: http://bit.ly/b8qn3T

Unreliable voice and data: Dropped calls, slow or unreliable data connections, and delayed or inaccurate location data.

Oh please – AT&T doesn’t need any help in this area.  There are bajillions of users in New York, San Francisco and elsewhere that have more or less constant issues in these areas, with no need to jailbreak to experience them.

Disruption of services: Services such as Visual Voicemail, YouTube, Weather, and Stocks have been disrupted or no longer work on the device. Additionally, third-party apps that use the Apple Push Notification Service have had difficulty receiving notifications or received notifications that were intended for a different hacked device. Other push-based services such as MobileMe and Exchange have experienced problems synchronizing data with their respective servers.

Fair enough.  I have seen and heard of a lot more of these issues on jailbroken than stock devices.

Compromised security: Security compromises have been introduced by these modifications that could allow hackers to steal personal information, damage the device, attack the wireless network, or introduce malware or viruses.

And several that have the potential to do exactly the same have been found within the stock iPhone OS, as has been well-publicized at some high-profile security events.  Admittedly, by its very nature jailbreak opens up far more of the iPhone system to potential exploit – but it also provides some useful tools (e.g a firewall app) to identify when any app is making any sort of outbound connection – which is more often than not where the worst damage from any security exploit will show up.

Shortened battery life: The hacked software has caused an accelerated battery drain that shortens the operation of an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch on a single battery charge.

Again, this is an issue that can occur on stock phones as well.

Inability to apply future software updates: Some unauthorized modifications have caused damage to the iPhone OS that is not repairable. This can result in the hacked iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch becoming permanently inoperable when a future Apple-supplied iPhone OS update is installed.

My experience is that only a very tiny percentage of iPhones ever become truly ‘bricked’ or inoperable as a result of any jailbreaking efforts.  There are times when users may not be able to update to the latest iPhone OS version while also maintaining their jailbreak afterwards – but so far there is always a workaround from jailbreak providers in due course, as the cat and mouse game with Apple continues.

I think it’s fair to say that jailbreaking may increase the risk of some or all of these issues occurring, but it is worth pointing out that none of these are unique to jailbroken iPhones.

The article also reminds on one risk that is significant and is unique to those who jailbreak:

Apple strongly cautions against installing any software that hacks the iPhone OS. It is also important to note that unauthorized modification of the iPhone OS is a violation of the iPhone end-user license agreement and because of this, Apple may deny service for an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch that has installed any unauthorized software. 

Here’s one other thing I found interesting in the article.  Even though there has not been a jailbreak released for the iPad yet, Apple lists it among the products affected.  I guess they’re conceding that one to the mice already. 🙂

JailbreakSupportDoc

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