The Security Detail

Mar 14 2011   9:15PM GMT

If It Can Be Jailbroken, It Can’t Be Secure

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

Apple deployed iOS 4.3 last week–the latest version of the mobile OS that powers the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. A day later, the OS had already been jailbroken.

For those who may be out of the loop, “jailbreak” is the term used for circumventing the security controls of iOS and gaining root access to hack the device and let you customize and configure it in ways that Apple would never allow.

Many people swear by jailbreaking, and consider it a “right” of sorts that they should be able to modify their iGadget of choice to fit their needs without getting Steve Jobs approval. Fair enough. But, the fact that iOS is so easily hacked to gain root access is not a great sign for the security of the mobile OS overall.

As organizations embrace smartphones and consider deploying tablets en masse, the security and stability of the platform are important factors to consider. There are a growing number of enterprise tools coming to market to enable IT admins to configure, monitor, and maintain remote devices like smartphones and tablets, and some of those are able to identify devices that have been jailbroken.

That is at least a band-aid, or a step in the right direction. But, Apple should be looking seriously at what it can do to protect iOS and prevent jailbreaking. No software is perfect, but iOS 4.3 was hacked in under 24 hours. Breaking into the OS should at least be a challenge requiring some effort and not just a trivial walk in the park.

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