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Is jailbreaking safe for your iPhone?

Sep 20, 2019 · 3 min read

Is jailbreaking safe for your iPhone?

You can personalize your iPhone to make it faster or more functional, but only to a degree. To take your changes even further, the only option is to jailbreak it. But at what cost? Are you prepared to pay the price of your own security?

What is jailbreaking?

Jailbreaking your iPhone unlocks the OS of your device and frees apps from Apple-imposed limitations. This means that you can change fundamental features of the system and, instead of relying only on the App Store, download apps from any website.

Jailbreaking became widely available in 2007, when the first iPhone was released, and Apple has been fighting against it ever since. Every time a new iOS version is introduced, hackers find security flaws and release a jailbreak.

While many people are completely happy with their default iPhones, some want to replace Safari with another browser, add extra icons to the homescreen, or install old games that are not available on the App Store.

Is jailbreaking safe?

Although legal in most countries, jailbreaking still involves risks. Here’s why:

  • Malware. Customized apps and games are great, but if you decide to download them from a random website, you’re likely to get malware on your phone. None of the apps outside of the store were screened or approved. Some of them may have failed Apple’s terms due to their technical settings or even for being malware.
  • Crashes and stability issues. Even a small change to a vital setting can damage your phone. Various customizations can also slow down your phone or even drain your battery. Although there are plenty of performance management apps available for jailbroken iPhones, why expose it to that risk in the first place?
  • Data breaches. In 2015, security pros at Palo Alto Software reported a major breach that resulted in the theft of more than 225,000 jailbreakers’ data. The affected users had downloaded an app called KeyRaider from Cydia, a special platform for jailbroken devices. That’s not to mention potential breaches of the data your new jailbroken apps might collect. Data breaches are growing more and more common.
  • Being ditched by Apple or your carrier. Do you think you’re better off alone? When you jailbreak your phone, you void its warranty. Neither Apple nor your carrier will agree to fix any issues with a jailbroken phone. If anyone accepts it for a repair, it won’t be free.

Is jailbreaking legal?

Although it is likely to void your warranty, jailbreaking is legal in the United States and is likely to be legal in most countries (though it’s worth checking). That doesn’t mean it will always stay legal. The DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) in the US had at one point made the practice illegal, but this interpretation was overturned in court. You own the device and should have the right to change it as you see fit.

The only thing illegal is downloading paid apps for free or using your phone for criminal activities. Jailbreaking violates Apple’s terms and conditions, but if you jailbreak an iPhone only for your personal use, no judge will raise an eyebrow. So far there have been no cases where Apple would take somebody to court. And if that happened, they would probably lose, as there are no laws against it.

Should you jailbreak your iPhone?

If your priority is safety, then we advise you against jailbreaking. If you’ve already decided to jailbreak, we have a few tips for staying a bit more secure:

  1. Before you jailbreak, back up your iPhone’s data. If something goes wrong, this could help you restore it to its non-jailbroken state.
  2. Look out for malicious apps and tweaks.
  3. Be cautious about visiting untrustworthy websites from your phone.
  4. Change the root password as soon as you jailbreak your phone. Every iPhone has the same default password, and jailbreaking makes your device vulnerable to hacks.

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Daniel Markuson
Daniel Markuson successVerified author

Daniel is a digital privacy enthusiast and an internet security expert. As the blog editor at NordVPN, Daniel is generous with spreading news, stories, and tips through the power of a well-written word.


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