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iOS Jailbreaking is Dying

The days that an iOS jailbreak comes out within days of a new iOS release may be over. The jailbreak community cannot seem to catch a break despite recent revelations regarding iOS 11.2.6.

Despite the legalities of jailbreaking, as we discuss briefly in the OSS Blog iOS, Android & Mobile Phone Hacking, jailbreaking is on the decline. Over the past few months, since the release of iOS 11 on September 19, 2017, what is left of the jailbreak community has been working to try to scrape together a jailbreak.

Coolstar to the rescue?

Recently, however, Coolstar has successfully been able to release a jailbreak tool for iOS 11 called Electra, it might be falling on death ears. The jailbreak works with iOS 11.0-11.1.2 firmware and is compatible with all 64-bit devices. Not bad for those who are still on that iOS version, which is probably not that many people.

However, if you are one of those who is, you can check your iOS version by going to Settings > General > About and check your Version, and are interested in pursuing this jailbreak, feel free to check out the Coolstar Electra website here.

Even with recent developments, such as the announcement from Min(Spark) Zheng:

There seems to be a vulnerability in iOS 11.3 which allows a hacker to gain read/write privileges at the kernel level. Fortunately for Apple, who by some in the jailbreak community is deemed the “enemy,” Zheng will likely go to the Apple.

Is an iOS 11.2.6 Jailbreak still possible?

There is a glimmer of hope in all of this. While Zheng talking to Apple will result in Apple patching the exploit, the resulting patch notes or through other methods would likely result in the exposure of information or details regarding the exploit. This may give hackers enough to come up with a solution to jailbreak iOS 11.2.6 for those who have not updated yet…

This has been the endless dilemma with iOS jailbreaking. Ever since Apple started signing iOS updates and restores in iTunes and patched up vulnerabilities such as caching Apple’s signature server and the prometheus tool, it has been increasingly difficult to comfortably move between iOS versions and with Apple moving vigorously to update iOS and create compelling features on the newer iOS updates, more and more people are opting to update.

To update or not update…

To upgrade or not to upgrade is an endless internal debate and those who do not upgrade to the latest iOS can leave themselves open to exploits and vulnerabilities both annoying, such as the ASCII character crashing iMessage, or dangerous, such as the exploit in which the main threat is the ability for a browser’s address bar to be spoofed (or faked/hijacked) by an attacker if a malicious website is visited.

According to Apple, the cause of this vulnerability was “An inconsistent user interface issue” that the patch fixed via “improved state management.” This is just fancy for fixed the issue by cleaning up how the iPhone displays things on the screen in relation to what the user does.

So the question is simple, should you upgrade and utilize Apples new features and patch old vulnerabilities and exploits, or wait in the dark hoping for an iOS exploit to allow for a jailbreak release?

The wait may not be worth it.

The major blow to iOS jailbreaking my not even be the lack of vulnerabilities. It may be ultimately due to the lack of development on the side of Cydia.

Over the past few months, two of the biggest Cydia repositories have been shut down as jailbreaking has died down. ModMy and ZodTTD are no longer available, leaving BigBoss as the only major repository (or source) that is still available to those who want apps and tweaks for your jailbroken iPhone.

This is a problem since the laws of supply and demand do not yield to anyone. As fewer and fewer people jailbreak and the market for jailbroken apps, services, and tweaks also shrinks. This ultimately means that there is either more competition for fewer dollars or more players simply leave the game.

Is all hope lost?

It would be premature to say that jailbreaking is dead even if it may look like it is. The community has made comebacks before and it wouldn’t take much for a strong comeback.

As Apple works to patch up the rest of iOS 11 and prepares for the iOS 12 release, developers and hackers alike will be waiting anxiously to see what else gets fixed or added and what is left alone. For each feature or line of code Apple adds or modifies in iOS 11’s last update, there is a possibility for a vulnerability to be left behind. It is during this time that hackers are either hoping that an exploit that has been found by hackers, which was not released to the public (a zero-day exploit), is not patched. It is also possible that an exploit is found in the last update before moving to the next iOS version which can then be used as the basis for a jailbreak.

The saying goes that one must have his or her ducks in a row. This is the case with iOS jailbreaking. There are many things that need to happen in order for a successful jailbreak to be created and released. While there may be many hackers working on iOS jailbreaks, there are likely just as many, if not more Apple engineers and white hat hackers working with Apple to find exploits and patch them.

A new jailbreak is possible but could take time, and more time, and even more time. Until then, it is likely that Apple will continue to convince most users to opt for the instant features and security updates it offers with the latest updates made to iOS.

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