What is iOS JailBreaking?
To put it simply, iOS jailbreaking is the process of removing limitations within Apple's iOS operating system. You can use both software and hardware exploits on each of Apple’s iOS devices including the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and the Apple TV.
Jailbreaking your device allows you ‘root access’ to iOS file system, clearly something Apple do not want you to do, and as a result you can download and install additional apps, tweaks and themes that are unavailable in the walled garden known as the ‘Apple App Store’. The easiest way to achieve this is via Cydia, an app that is installed during the vast majority of Jailbreaks.
And so it began.
On the 24th August 2007, George Hotz (GeoHot), a 17-year-old hacker from Glen Rock, New Jersey, successfully managed to remove the lock that provided AT&T sole rights to the very first Apple iPhone. His simple hack (although it is reported it took 4 people 500 hours to develop), enabled any SIM Card on any Carrier across the world to use and enjoy Apple’s iPhone.
On the same day, another team called ‘iPhoneSimFree’ provided examples of a working unlock, however, this was never made public, unlike Geohot’s version. A select number of resellers were able to purchase software keys for their customers.
On the 11th September 2007, a full 24 hours after the ‘iPhoneSimFree’ unlock was made available for sale, the ‘iPhone Dev Team’ provided a free software unlock tool with two GUI versions being released shortly after, AnySim and iUnlock Reloaded.
Apple decided to attack.
On the 24th September 2007, Apple ended its silence and made an announcement.
"Apple has discovered that many of the unauthorized iPhone unlocking programs available on the Internet cause irreparable damage to the iPhone's software, which will likely result in the modified iPhone becoming permanently inoperable when a future Apple-supplied iPhone software update is installed," the company said in a statement.
On the 27th September, Apple pushed an iOS update to all users, Version 1.1.1 was made available via iTunes. Whilst this did rendered the device virtually inoperable, may users who had not made the modification were also effected, this became known as a ‘bricked’ device.
However, on the 11th October 2007 the ‘iPhoneSIMFree’ team announced that they had successfully hacked the 1.1.1 iPhone update, not only unlocking them but also unbricking those iPhones which were bricked by the update.
On the 16th October 2007, the ‘iPhoneDevTeam’ released also released an update to AnySIM 1.1. A free utility that unlocked iPhones on firmware version 1.1.1. However, this didn't fix baseband problems caused by updating an unlocked 1.0.2 phone up to 1.1.1.
Another team ‘iPhone Elite Dev-Team’ joined the party. On the 23rd October 2007 they released their own tool to fix issues caused by the original AnySIM tool allowing iPhones the ability to upgrade to 1.1.1 without bricking the iPhone. This tool was unbricking the previously bricked iPhones.
Towards the end of November 2007, Apple released a new iOS, version 1.1.2, again removing the unlock made by all of the released tools.
The battle had begun.
The battle between hackers and Apple had clearly begun wit it continuing to this very day. With each iOS update the Jailbreak community find exploits and release tools to bypass Apple’s security.
“I’m not sure if we are the cat or the mouse. People will try to break in, and it’s our job to stop them breaking in.” Steve Jobs.
The next generation.
On the 19th July 2008, PwnageTool released a major update to their tool. Version 2.0 supported the iPhone 3G and began installing Cydia. Cydia was created by Jay Freeman (Saurik) and was originally launched in February 2008 as an open-source alternative to Installer.app, but the inclusion with the PwnageTool made it available to the masses. By August 2009, Saurik claimed Cydia was installed on over 10%/4 million Apple devices.
The use of PwnageTool grew with each iOS release. However, it was still a tool that required a little bit of know-how in order to use it successfully. In essence you created a custom IPSW (Apple’s iOS install method) for use on your device, selecting which features you required.
Jailbreaking your device just became extremely easy.
JailbreakMe 2.0 by Comex, was released on the 6th July 2010 and was designed to be used on the iPhone 4. In order to JailBreak your device, you simply visited a website on your iPhone via Safari, clicked the ‘jailbreak’ button shown, waited a few seconds and your device instantly became JailBroken. This opened up JailBreaking opportunities for the masses. That was until the 15th July 2011, when Apple released iOS 4.3.4 removing the exploit used by Comex. Comex was then hired by Apple as an intern in August 2011.
In January 2012 the ‘iPhone Dev Team’, ‘Chronic Dev Team’, and ‘pod2g’ collaborated to release ‘Absinthe’, a JailBreak tool for the iPhone 4s running iOS 5. A further update was released, ‘Absinthe 2.0’ JailBroke iOS 5.1.1.
The 4th February 2013, saw the ‘evad3rs Team’ released an iOS 6.X jailbreak tool called evasi0n. Again, Apple upgraded its software to iOS 6.1.3 permanently patching the evasi0n jailbreak.
The Current Status.
The 22nd December 2013 saw the ‘evad3rs Team’ release a new version of evasi0n that supports jailbreaking iOS 7.x, this is known as evasi0n7.
Shortly after the release of evasi0n7, on the 4th January 2014 ‘winocm’, ‘ih8sn0w’ and ‘SquiffyPwn’ released ‘p0sixspwn’ for devices on iOS 6.1.3 - 6.1.5. Initially, you will need to already been tethered jailbroken using redsn0w and install p0sixpwn at Cydia.
At the time of writing, iOS 7.1 has not been JailBroken for use on the iPhone 5, however there are methods to upgrade the iPhone 4. It is rumored no further Jailbreak tools will be released until Apple start to deliver the iPhone 6 and iOS 8.