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jailbreaking

Contributor(s): Lisa Phifer

Jailbreaking, in a mobile device context, is the use of an exploit to remove manufacturer or carrier restrictions from a device such as an iPhone or iPad. The exploit usually involves running a privilege escalation attack on a user’s device to replace the manufacturer’s factory-installed operating system with a custom kernel.

Apple users often jailbreak iPhones and iPads to install programs that are not available through Apple’s channels. Developers who don’t wish to undergo Apple review or comply with Apple’s AppStore rules often post apps on Cydia and other download sites used by jailbroken devices. Jailbreaking can also be used to bypass Digital Rights Management (DRM) and share copyrighted media, or to access file system, user interface, or network capabilities that are otherwise locked down.

However, jailbreaking increases the risk of malware infection or hacking. A jailbroken device can be easily victimized by a Trojan or accessed remotely by an intruder. Any security measures provided by iOS or installed third-party applications may be rendered inoperable or untrustworthy. As a result, employers often take steps to detect and then quarantine or wipe jailbroken devices. 

This was last updated in January 2013

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