Mobile phone hacking is becoming increasingly popular. Although this can be done as a form of cyber attack or espionage, it is also used by some to increase functionality or customization.
Since the evolution of cellphones into smartphones, phones with the ability to run applications, have become an extension of ourselves into the digital world; vulnerable to mobile phone hacking.
The more we become intrenched in the digital worlds we create, the more there is a motivation for a profiteer to come along and monetize this world we create. Think of it like towns in the old days, most were often started by a select few who put in most of the work to establish some sort of order. Over time, this order would allow a civilization to grow and for profiteers to build businesses which attracted more workers and in turn grew the local economy.
As the digital worlds we create grow, so those their value. Especially in todays ad and content driven online economy, the more we create online and participate, the more opportunity there is to engage with profiteers.
Once this digital evolution began, companies have been working to capture as big a share of this world as possible. Fast forward to today and the biggest players in this battle are Google and Apple.
iOS, the pride and joy of Apple Inc., is company’s push to maintain a walled garden approach to one of the worlds most popular operating systems. In doing so, much like many other instances in tech, fosters the growth of an entire community dedicated to overcoming this effort. This would come to be known as the “jailbreak.”
Android on the other hand, was handled a bit differently by Google and because of this, it is not uncommon to find that a larger number of Android users, compared to their iOS counterparts, are familiar with rooting, the method in which a user can gain root access to the device operating system.
For the sake of article length, we will save the details of each of these processes for another series of articles but what is important to mention moving forward is that despite what most people believe, in the United States, rooting, or jailbreaking, is considered legal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DCMA, you can read the full text here.
Well, don’t get too excited just yet, turns out that there might be some cavities.
Consider that rooting or jailbreaking a device like your personal and owned phone might be legal, as in avoid legal prosecution, however, the End User License Agreement, or EULA, might forbid such actions while a warranty is in effect. In other words, if you want your AppleCare or other type of warranty support to remain in effect, you better not mess with the phone.
In the case of most androids, rooting is a matter of carefully following directions. HTC, for example, has a developer website. All you need to do is sign up for an HTC developer account, which is free, and you will have the tools directly from HTC that are needed to unlock the bootloader, which is required to gain root access.
iOS, on the other hand, is not so easy. In fact, to this day, there are many devices or software versions that do not have reliable jailbreaks, and even the ones that do, if a user updates to a newer version, they will lose the jailbreak.
Jailbreaking is a sport not for the light of heart. The hunt for vulnerabilities begins when Apple drops a new beta for developers to try and during this time, everyone holds their breath and the jailbreak communities work tirelessly and desperately to break Apple’s walled garden.
In the coming weeks, we are going to talk about how security plays a roll in jailbreaking and rooting devices, and other types of mobile phone hacking, and how these methods, or exploits, are discovered.