The cat and mouse between Apple and the jailbreak community has been going on for about 6 years now. Every time a new jailbreak tool is released, taking advantage of some holes in Apple’s tight mobile operating system, you can bet your shirt that Apple will be quick at patching those holes with a software update.
Sometimes those software updates are released faster than others. For example, it took Apple 43 days to patch a series of vulnerabilities that allowed iOS 6 users to jailbreak their devices using evasi0n. In comparison, it took Apple only nine days to fix the bugs that were exploited by JailbreakMe 3.0.
The time difference can be easily explained by the fact that exploits like those used by JailbreakMe represent a much a higher security threat to iOS users than those used in evasi0n. Remember, JailbreakMe could be run directly from the device’s browser, thus exposing virtually every single iOS 4.3.3 user at the time to security risks. In comparison, evasi0n requires you to plug the device to a computer via USB. Clearly, the security threats is much lower with evasi0n.
This being said, every time Apple releases a software update that patches vulnerabilities used in a jailbreak, some enthusiastic jailbreakers are always quick at calling Apple names and accusing the company to actively fight the jailbreak community. “Apple hates jailbreakers. They just released a software update to kill the jailbreak,” you can often read every time an iOS update that patches a jailbreak is released. But is that really the truth? Does Apple really hate the jailbreak community or is it trying to protect the safety of its most popular operating system?
Each jailbreak tool released is the result of an incredible amount of work from one or several individuals. This work is entirely based on vulnerabilities in the operating system, allowing hackers to exploit these vulnerabilities and turn them into a working jailbreak. If there is no security hole in the system, there can’t be a jailbreak.
As minor as they might be, the problem for Apple is that these vulnerabilities represent a security threat to iOS users. Even though some of these vulnerabilities are really trivial, Apple just can’t afford not to fix them. Not only the company would come across as careless, but more importantly, it could open the door to more serious vulnerabilities being found and exploited, which could compromise the security of iOS and put users at risks of having their devices hacked and their personal information imperiled.
But of course, what are the chances of this doomsday scenario happening? The chances are really slim indeed, but it’s a risk that Apple doesn’t want to take, and to be quite honest, I completely understand that.
To answer my own question, no, Apple doesn’t hate jailbreakers. If anything, I believe Apple embraces the jailbreak community not only because it gives the company ideas about future features, but it also helps make iOS a safer operating system. Unfortunately, all this is to the detriment of jailbreak users like us. We want safer devices, but we also want to be able to jailbreak. You choose what’s more important to you – security or freedom – but you can’t blame Apple for doing its job and making sure its users are safe.
As for me, I made my choice. I choose freedom. I choose to potentially put my device at risk in order to enjoy the many benefits jailbreaking has to offer. But I also choose to respect Apple’s actions when it releases a software update that fixes exploits used in a jailbreak, because ultimately, this is for the greater good of all iOS users.