SSH is a powerful tool that lets you access your jailbroken handset’s filesystem on the fly, but one of the things I don’t like about it is how there’s no indication when an SSH connection is initiated.
A new free jailbreak tweak called SSHIcon by iOS developer Sticktron solves this problem by putting an icon in your Status Bar any time you or someone else uses SSH to access your device.
The tweak sounds trivial at first, but SSH is a powerful tool, and you should know when it’s being used. I would consider seeing a Status Bar icon for SSH activity as tantamount to seeing the Location Services icon when my location is being accessed.
One of the primary reasons for this tweak’s usefulness is that not enough people change their default root password from “alpine” to something more personal. This is more of a problem with user negligence than with SSH itself, but forgetting to change this password can make a device more susceptible to unauthorized root access and malicious intent.
SSHIcon doesn’t prevent unwanted connections, but it can make users more aware of when their device is being accessed via SSH. Moreover, the icon is fully customizable, as is the functionality of the tweak, but we’ll get to that later.
When the icon displays in the Status Bar, you can tap and hold on it to invoke a pop-up showing all your currently-active connections. In the case shown above, there are two connections, and the pop-up displays the IP address, the type of access, and the time the access was granted for each of them.
To configure the tweak to your liking, you can access its preference pane in the Settings app:
Here, you can:
- Enable or disable the tweak on demand
- Choose whether the icon appears on the left or right side of the Status Bar
- Choose the icon style you want
- Choose how often your device should check for active SSH connections
To mitigate battery impact, you ought to reduce the frequency of SSH checks to something in between 10-30 seconds. Nevertheless, you can choose any frequency you want.
Hopefully, your jailbroken iPhone or iPad isn’t being accessed without your knowledge. On the other hand, you might never know because SSH into jailbroken iPhones and iPads typically happens behind the scenes without any indicators.
Those who change their root passwords seldom have anything to worry about, and SSHIcon would serve as nothing more than peace of mind, but I do think that OpenSSH and other SSH tools should include this functionality out of the box.
Because they don’t however, you can grab SSHIcon (iOS 9/10) for free from Cydia’s BigBoss repository to compliment the experience. The tweak works on all jailbroken iOS 9 and 10 devices.
Do you like the concept behind SSHIcon? Share why or why not in the comments section below!