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How will Apple respond to the new jailbreaking process?

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Enduring the stormPhoto credit: foreversouls (Flickr)

Given the simplicity of Comex’s newly released jailbreak process “JailbreakMe” (which covers all iDevices i.e. iPad, iPhone and iTouch), there have already been a number of videos posted to the Internet of people jailbreaking devices inside of Apple Stores.  Whilst amusing, it does pose a problem for Apple.

Like many others, I can’t help but smirk at the actions of those that have chosen to intentionally jailbreak devices in Apple’s retail outlets; however at the same time I do have a morsel of compassion for Apple since not everyone wants to jailbreak their device.

The demonstration devices in the Apple store are there to promote Apple’s products to new customers.  By jailbreaking them, potential new customers aren’t going to get a genuine perception of the available product line.  Like many other techies, I’ve often looked to see what firmware version the demo iPhones have installed and been staggered to see vastly out of date firmware in use.  If Apple Store staff proactively carry out checks to see if any handset has been jailbroken, then restoring any device found to be so, one benefit for the customer is the demo units should always have up-to-date firmware.  The downside to this situation is the manpower lost to spending time constantly restoring devices.  There are already reports of Genius bar appointments being 10+ days waiting time; this isn’t a level of customer service Apple will want to provide and as such, they’ve surely got to do something to prevent Joe Public from jailbreaking their devices.  The question is what?

Off the top of my head, there are two possible routes Apple will take:

  1. They block access to JailbreakMe.com on their store wireless access points.   This is something we’ve already seen Vodafone UK do to customers attempting to jailbreak over the Vodafone mobile network here in the UK.  It should be a simple process to undertake, however I don’t feel Apple will do so, since let’s face it, despite Steve Jobs’ dislike of porn, you can walk into an Apple Store most days and find someone’s left pornographic images displayed on one or more devices before leaving the store.
  2. A new firmware is released for all iDevices which will block the exploit utilised.  Naturally, I hope this isn’t the case since given the simplicity of the latest jailbreak, I hope it brings more people to the jailbreak table so that they can enjoy the extra functionality being jailbroken brings to the whole iDevice experience.

What do you feel Apple will do?  Do they actually care, or will they simply shrug their shoulders and simply swap out any demo unit that get’s jailbroken.  I suppose in some senses, they can afford to pay a Saturday kid to restore a stack of devices each week!  Share with us your views in the comments section below.

  • Apple will patch the hole. They have to. This is more serious than what goes on at the Apple Stores. There is a serious flaw in the way safari handles launching pdf files which malicious people could use to gain unauthorized access to what seems to be anything on the device.

  • Rob

    Thanks for the comment! I think you're right – they will long term, but as we know, it's rare that they update their demo handsets in-store, so to prevent the problem there I do feel there'll be a shorter term goal of locking down the store internet gateways (despite my comments in-post suggesting if they don't deal with porn, why would they deal with this).

    I wonder what the jailbreak team have up their sleeves for when this hole gets patched?

  • I'm sure if(when) Apple patches this it won't take but a few days for a “regular” jailbreak via usb. I'm guessing the security flaw would be their main concern and they'd want to get it fixed asap, and not worry too much about making 4.1.1 or whatever more resilient to jailbreaking. Especially since it's legal now 🙂

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