A long-awaited permanent jailbreak for the latest iPhones and iPads was released last night (Feb. 4), satisfying owners who rushed out to install apps unauthorized by Apple.
The "Evasi0n" jailbreak isn't as convenient as the Jailbreak.me methods for some older versions of iOS, in which users only had to navigate their device's browser to a specially designed website.
But although Evasi0n requires users to install software on a personal computer and then sync the device to the computer using a USB cable, it's a true "untethered" jailbreak because it'll survive a device reboot.
"Jailbreaks that require USB tethering have a lower security impact, and are usually only useful to the phone's owner," noted the RawTech blog of Denver digital-security firm Accuvant.
"Attackers are less interested, because iPhones with a passcode set will refuse to communicate over USB if they are locked, unless they have previously paired with the connecting computer."
How to use it
Users must first make sure their iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch is updated to iOS 6.0 or 6.1, the latter of which was released last week, and then back up the device to iTunes. (It won't work on the first-generation iPad, the first two generations of iPhones or the first three generations of the iPod Touch.)
From there, users need to download and install the free Evasi0n tool for Windows, Mac or Linux from the Evasi0n site.
Users should close iTunes on the computer, disable the passcode lock on the device, run the Evasi0n tool on the computer and then connect the device with a USB cable.
The Evasi0n tool will walk the user through the rest of the steps.
Legal, but possibly not advisable
It applies mainly to Apple iOS devices, which are coded to usually only accept installations from the iTunes App Store. Jailbreaking opens up the device to apps from other sources. (Android devices have always had that ability.)
Such unauthorized apps include backgrounds, file managers, software tweaks and utilities, many of which are available through Cydia, which is sort of like the App Store for non-iTunes apps.
Other app stores for jailbroken devices offer pirated versions of popular paid apps and games.
Cydia's servers were briefly offline last night as they buckled under the load of newly jailbroken iPhones and iPads trying to download apps.
Since Apple's robust iOS security model is built around controlling the software that goes on the device, jailbreaking may not be advisable for an iOS user who's not skilled technically.
Even though the iOS platform debuted more than five years ago, the only instances of iOS malware found in the wild have been on jailbroken devices.