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Apple Quietly Drops iOS Jailbreak Detection API 164

Posted by kdawson
from the if-i-were-to-ask-you dept.
bednarz writes "Without explanation, Apple has disabled a jailbreak detection API in iOS, less than six months after introducing it. Device management vendors say the reasons for the decision are a mystery, but insist they can use alternatives to discover if an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad has been modified so it can load and alter applications outside of Apple's iTunes-based App Store."
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Apple Quietly Drops iOS Jailbreak Detection API

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 10, 2010 @07:27PM (#34519456)

    If you can jailbreak the phone, you can trick the detection API. Once the system is "untrustable" it is not trustable.

    • by PNutts (199112) on Friday December 10, 2010 @07:32PM (#34519502)

      If you can jailbreak the phone, you can trick the detection API. Once the system is "untrustable" it is not trustable.

      My God. Someone actually RTFA.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 10, 2010 @07:50PM (#34519654)

      Fruitless ....Apple ....

      Ahahahahahahahah! Good one, man!

    • You'd think at some point these companies would realize they're never going to be able to throw enough programming hours at a device to keep literally tens of thousands of basement tinkers from eventually hijacking it. You'd think they'd find it better to provide the jailbreak themselves so they can have SOME control over it. At least flag the device as jail-broken for the warrentee or not allowed on enterprise equipment...
      • You'd think they'd find it better to provide the jailbreak themselves so they can have SOME control over it.

        Apple sells the jailbreak; it just costs $600 for a Mac plus $99 per year.

      • by SvnLyrBrto (62138) on Saturday December 11, 2010 @04:38AM (#34521970)

        > You'd think at some point these companies would realize they're never
        > going to be able to throw enough programming hours at a device to
        > keep literally tens of thousands of basement tinkers from eventually hijacking it.

        That's not the point. If that were the point, Apple could go all RIAA/MPAA DMCA-anti-circumvention on the authors of the jailbreak tools (and individual jailbreakers, for that matter). None of them are hard to find, after all. But Apple is still primarily a hardware company. And they get their money on said hardware whether you jailbreak or not. And even jailbreakers usually have a decent amount of AppStore purchases on their iPhones as well. After all, aside from Backgrounder and SBSettings, Cydia is pretty much a vast sea of crap.

        The point is to keep the barrier to entry for jailbreaking high enough that the Genius Bars don't have to deal with morons who do things like install openSSH, don't bother to set passwords, and get their phones rickrolled.

        To wit: Observe the reaction of the MPAA to DVD-Jon and deCSS vs Apple's reaction to him and PlayFair.

        MPAA: Sue, sue, and sue some more. Who cares if he's Swedish and US law doesn't apply there? Sue anyway. Also sue journalists for mentioning the existence of deCSS. Try to get Jon extradited and/or prosecuted under everything from the Berne Convention to the Treaty of Versailles.

        Apple: Ignore him until the RIAA squawks at them about the cracked DRM and do a minor point release to iTunes which breaks PlayFair which is, in turn, updated within 48 hours to work again. Carry on ignoring Jon until the RIAA squawks at them again.

  • So can we jai - unlock our iPhones now?

    • Re:Apple Relenting? (Score:5, Informative)

      by HermMunster (972336) on Friday December 10, 2010 @08:07PM (#34519816)

      I believe you could already legally unlock your phone.

      You probably don't understand the intent of the DMCA. The purpose of it was to stop copyright infringement. It was never intended as a lock to protect a company's business practices. In fact, the write up from the Library of Congress specifically targetted that fact--that Apple had submitted their oral and written opposition asserting their attempts to protect their business model. The Library of Congress concluded that to mean that Apple wasn't really trying to protect the right's holder's copyright, instead they were trying to protect their business model.

      This is what the Register (Library of Congress) stated (taken from the Ars Technica write-up):

      "Apple is not concerned that the practice of jailbreaking will displace sales of its firmware or of iPhones," wrote the Register, explaining her thinking by running through the "four factors" of the fair use test. "Indeed, since one cannot engage in that practice unless one has acquired an iPhone, it would be difficult to make that argument. Rather, the harm that Apple fears is harm to its reputation. Apple is concerned that jailbreaking will breach the integrity of the iPhone's ecosystem. The Register concludes that such alleged adverse effects are not in the nature of the harm that the fourth fair use factor is intended to address."

      Copyright protection is granted to protect the rights holder from illegal distribution of their content and not to prohibit owners of the hardware from doing other things with it once they own it.

    • by Firehed (942385)

      You certainly can try, but unlocking (to my understanding) requires reprogramming parts of the GSM chip's firmware. Jailbreaking is merely getting root access. Which allows you to unlock the phone, but you still have to know what you're doing - and if you screw it up, the phone is probably dead for good even if the rest of the device remains functional.

      Even if you CAN unlock, do you really want to? In the US, your only frequency-compatible option is T-Mobile, and you often lose 3G capability too. It's prob

      • I recently ceased my AT&T relationship after having an iPhone for nearly 3 years. Later I realized that I could take a simcard out of a cheap pay as you go cell phone, and that if I unlocked it I could use it on that carrier, albeit with limits. So, yes, some would. My 1st gen iPhone works perfectly (except battery life issues) and if I can make use of it at significantly (and I do mean significant) reduced cost I will.

        • Re:Apple Relenting? (Score:4, Informative)

          by DarkVader (121278) on Friday December 10, 2010 @10:25PM (#34520780)

          And you can.

          PwnageTool has a very easy unlock option for the 1st gen iPhone, just check the box as you're configuring the jailbroken firmware. I think the version you want is 3.1.5, easily available on Pirate Bay (which is the official release location).

          For later iPhones, it's simple enough to run UltraSn0w and unlock once you've jailbroken.

          (I'm assuming from the tone of your post that you may well already know all of this, but GP appears to have no understanding of the ease of the process.)

        • From my understanding, not all phones provided by US networks even *have* SIMs. Some do, some don't, in contrast to Europe where every phone takes SIMs - even if it's locked to only use those for one network.
  • the reasons for the decision are a mystery

    Sudden outbreak of common sense was too far-fetched? It's none of their business if I jailbreak my phone.

    • by Microlith (54737)

      Sudden outbreak of common sense

      Nonsense, for fans of lock down "common sense" means that you do like the vast majority of people and leave control of the device to whoever locked it down. You're just a consumer, you shouldn't be doing that. You're supposed to visit the AppStore and consume.

      It's a broken, twisted, and borderline abusive view on the world but that's what we have.

      • Re:Reasons (Score:5, Interesting)

        by zn0k (1082797) on Friday December 10, 2010 @07:58PM (#34519730)

        Damn skippy you don't jailbreak the phone that your workplace gave you. After all, they own that phone. Literally.

        Which is what the article is actually about - functionality that allows enterprise software to detect whether a phone deployed through that enterprise has been jailbroken. It's a simple part of compliance testing of work issued equipment.

        • Re:Reasons (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Microlith (54737) on Friday December 10, 2010 @08:02PM (#34519754)

          Assuming that is the only basis upon which it was used. However the vast, vast majority of iPhones I've seen used with work systems are personal devices and as the first poster noted once a phone is Jailbroken it can lie to you about everything.

          So they may be jailbreaking what is most likely their personal device, and they could easily load a hack that made it go "yeah I'm not jailbroken."

          • and they could easily load a hack that made it go "yeah I'm not jailbroken."

            There's an app for that!

          • It seems like the API is running a checksum against OS files. How can you spoof that?

            • by netsharc (195805)

              Have a copy of the virgin OS files on disk, and modify the checksum function to check those files instead of the real OS's files. In effect, put the checksum function in its own jail, which I think qualifies as irony.

              I think AOL did this once in the AIM protocl to prevent third party clients like Pidgin (or Gaim as it used to be known) from connecting to their network. I forget how Gaim's developer solved it...

        • Am I the only one preoccupied that employers are shoving their employees with tracking devices? And given that you can't turn off or remove the battery form an iPhone what recourse these people have besides quitting their jobs? Dropping their phones in a metal lunch box?

          • How can't you turn off an iPhone? Did you lose your fingers or something?

            • Last time heard of it the iPhone still calls home when off so it's never really off.

              • by mattack2 (1165421)

                [citation needed]

                Hold down the top button for many seconds. A slider comes up saying "slide to power off".

                When you power back on, it takes MUCH longer than waking the device, and you see it booting.

              • by Yaztromo (655250)

                As another poster has mentioned, you can turn the iPhone off -- the standard state most customers think of as "off" only really turns off the display.

                However, a much easier way of doing the same thing is to just put the iPhone in Airplane mode. That mode disables all of the wireless subsystems at the hardware level, preventing it from being able to "phone home" in any way, shape, or form (I think airlines and various international air transport authorities would have a problem if the iPhone randomly overro

                • by samjam (256347)

                  That doesn't mean that GPS is turned off (after all it's a receiver) and it doesn't mean it can't report your route up as soon as you turn it back on again.

                • Interestingly, there has never been a single incident of a phone interfering with an aircraft's electronics, and even in theory it's so unlikely as to be laughable. There are two theories as to why the phones remain banned. Some people claim it's over-caution - that airlines know the risk is infinitesimal, but still don't want to take even that chance. Other people claim it's financial: Forbid the mobiles in order to get rid of the competition, then people will have to use the passanger in-flight phones whi
                  • by toriver (11308)

                    The biggest reason is the distance to cell towers when you are 30,000 feet above ground.

                    The cell phones would be sending at max power to talk with those distant towers. At the speed of an airplane, multiple towers would get the phone's weak requests to connect, and would each set aside a "slot" while waiting for the phone to complete handshake, which might never complete.

                  • Re:Reasons (Score:4, Interesting)

                    by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris.beau@org> on Saturday December 11, 2010 @03:31PM (#34524796)

                    > The base station is a long way down, and even at maximum transmit power
                    > the connection is too unreliable for voice.

                    No, do the math. 30,000 feet of empty air vs a mile of urban environment. The problem is a cell in a plane throws a very clear signal to every tower for miles around; All of which try to reply, hilarity ensues. And in the days of analog cell service there were only a couple hundred channels usable from any one cell site (to allow overlap) so a planeload of idiots trying to make calls would present a moving cellphone jammer to the system. And with digital the problem is only a little less horrible. The root of the problem is the cell network was conceived as a 2D environment and the problem of the Z axis's existence was left undefined.

          • by MightyYar (622222)

            And given that you can't turn off

            Can't turn it off? Have you ever actually used one of these things?

            tracking devices

            Crackberries and WinMo had GPS before iPhones, and they also had the ability to run corporate code without hacks.

            If your employer wants to track you, they can do it with any current-generation smart phone.

          • by Duradin (1261418)

            Leave it at your desk, they'll think you're a model employee.

        • by netsharc (195805)

          You're forgetting one part, when a user-land exploit has managed to jailbreak the phone and install malware onto it, essentially being a rogue node inside the corporation's nework. Of course it's only theoretical so far, but an all-in-one spying software that can run undetected in iPhones would fetch quite a sum of money. As for the user-land exploit, that's real: the Spirit jailbreak used a bug in the PDF rendering library that got it all the way into the kernel...

          • by netsharc (195805)

            Did I word that properly? I meant when the bad guys (e.g. the Chinese government) has used a user-land exploit to queitly jailbreak and install malware on your/the employee's iPhone...

            If they had not patched that PDF bug (which, I believe is the case for iPhoneOS 3 and less), the bad guy can just send the iPhone user an e-mail with a PDF attachment, "take a look at this". User clicks the PDF, and boom, the exploit can fake a reboot (show the white Apple) while it downloads and installs itself from the inter

      • That's a bullshit response, and I have to call it.

        Common sense says that it is your device and you do to it what you will once you own it. The vast majority of people feel that way too. Just imagine the automotive industry locking down their vehicles and claiming no one can perform maintenance or modification outside of their purview.

        We are not just the customer, we are the owner of the device. We "were" a customer but we became the owner once the transaction was complete. I am not renting the phone/ipo

        • by Microlith (54737) on Friday December 10, 2010 @08:22PM (#34519986)

          Common sense says that it is your device and you do to it what you will once you own it.

          You aren't looking at it from the skewed perspective of a carrier or vendor like Apple.

          The vast majority of people feel that way too.

          They may, but the vendors are banking on their ignorance.

          I am not renting the phone/ipod/ipad, I am buying it by trading my money in exchange.

          Sure, but you aren't the kind of customer that companies selling locked down devices want.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          I am buying it by trading my money in exchange.

          This is true. However, I bought it with the full knowledge of what I was getting into. I don't have a smartphone, but I do have an iPod Touch. I had no need for jailbreaking, so I don't really care that the device is locked down.

          Would I rather that Apple didn't lock the device down? Sure. But until a competent competitor comes around, they are the best in town and worth the trade-off. If someone made a polished Android media player, maybe I would buy that instead. There's an Archos device that you can hack

        • "Just imagine the automotive industry locking down their vehicles and claiming no one can perform maintenance or modification outside of their purview."

          I don't need to: They already do. While simple damage to the bodywork, worn tires and such are still repairable at any garage, any engine fault is impossible to even diagnose in a modern car without access to the engine control unit. Those things invariably use a propritary, closed and very secretive protocol. The only garages with access to the software ne
    • Re:Reasons (Score:4, Informative)

      by hedwards (940851) on Friday December 10, 2010 @07:59PM (#34519736)
      Indeed. Personally, I like how Google handles it on the Nexus One. Attempting to unlock it pops up a screen explaining that if you continue unlocking it that they are no longer responsible for what the software does. Which is fair enough, if they no longer have any control over the software, then it's a reasonable trade off.

      But with the Android phones there's little reason to unlock it, unless one wants to run a custom UI, as you can already convenient install apps from elsewhere.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        You missed the biggest reason, to run the latest OS version. Hardware vendors and carriers make updates slow and infrequent. On top of this they will stop updating a phone soon after release to ensure you upgrade to a newer model and get another contract.

        I say this as someone who own a Moto Droid and for the most part likes it. I probably won't get another android device other than a pure google one like the Nexus line. Other than that I might get a meego/meebo device.

        • by Karlt1 (231423)

          You missed the biggest reason, to run the latest OS version. Hardware vendors and carriers make updates slow and infrequent. On top of this they will stop updating a phone soon after release to ensure you upgrade to a newer model and get another contract.

          Original iPhone -- released in June 2007 and was capable of running the latest OS until Jun 2010
          iPhone 3G -- released in June 2008, still capable of running the latest OS (with limitations)
          iPhone 3GS -- released in June 2009, capable of running the latest O

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            Your point is?

            Wow, their device was allowed to live 3 years instead of 2. There are G1s running the latest and greatest android right now.

            • The thing still lives, it just doesn't get the new fancy stuff. Is that such a problem?
            • by Karlt1 (231423)

              Wow, their device was allowed to live 3 years instead of 2. There are G1s running the latest and greatest android right now.

              Yeah because normal consumers are going to troll the Internet,root their phones and install an unofficial OS....

          • by hedwards (940851)
            That's more a matter of Apple not allowing the carrier to use a custom interface. The main reason why it takes so long for a lot of those phones to get the latest release, is that the carrier feels the need to include a custom interface.
            • by Karlt1 (231423)

              The main reason why it takes so long for a lot of those phones to get the latest release, is that the carrier feels the need to include a custom interface.

              So the carrier feels the need to install the Sense UI on HTC phones, MotoBlur on Motorola phones and TouchWiz on Samsung phones?

      • by Microlith (54737)

        I like it better on the N900, where I add a repository and install a package. My warranty is still intact, even. In any case, all phones should do at least what the Nexus One does.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          Any idea if meego/meebo/whatever crazy name they pick next will continue this trend?

          • by Microlith (54737)

            It's always been MeeGo. Currently the N900 runs Maemo, which has been around since the 770 back in 2005. Whether or not that trend continues depends on who uses it. Nokia hopefully will continue it on whatever successors running MeeGo appear. No guarantees for other vendors.

      • That still doesn't void the warranty. It just means that OEM wouldn't be obligated to provide technical support.

    • by zn0k (1082797)

      > It's none of their business if I jailbreak my phone.

      Agreed. It is, however, your company's business if you jailbreak the phone they gave you. THEIR phone. Which is what the article is about - enterprise software detecting whether you jailbroke THEIR phone.

    • That's my thought too. Developers should not be looking at my phone for any purpose other than running programs. What I do outside their tiny little sandbox is none of their business.

    • Re:Reasons (Score:4, Interesting)

      by cmdahler (1428601) on Friday December 10, 2010 @08:09PM (#34519842)
      Sigh. You really ought to RTFA, otherwise you just come across as a dumbshit. This story has nothing to do with preventing you from doing what you want with your i-Device. It has everything to do with an enterprise-provided and -owned device reporting itself to the enterprise-owner that you as the non-owner-user have jailbroken your i-Device, thus causing a security hole the size of the one in your backside in the enterprise's system. And yes, Virginia, the enterprise that owns said device does have the right to know if you're being said dumbshit and jailbreaking a device that you don't even own.
      • Re:Reasons (Score:5, Funny)

        by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday December 10, 2010 @08:19PM (#34519962)

        I realize you are new here, but it is a long and proud slashdot tradion to not read the linked article. Many really hardcore slashdot users do not even read the summary.

      • He never said he was worried about them preventing, rather he said it was none of their business and that they shouldn't even be looking. To me it means that it's a breach of privacy and of good faith.

        The implication was that Apple removed it for whatever reason (most likely to protect themselves), yet program authors could look anyway using their own methodology. That implies they can and will. Making the determination of whether a phone is jailbroken is not their business.

    • But its not your network.

      • by Microlith (54737)

        Irrelevant. All my phone needs is to communicate via the protocol used for the network and have some means of authenticating. Given a SIM and a compliant radio, the carrier can STFU and GBTW.

        My phone not being locked down has nothing whatsoever to do with that.

        • The carriers like to attract customers by providing a phone too - a new, really flashy phone like the iPhone. Free, or at an extremally low cost, because the carrier knows that they'll make back the loss over the duration of the contract. They can only do that if they are sure you'll actually stick with the contract and not just take the phone and go over to a network that offers cheaper service. If they couldn't lock the phones, they wouldn't be able to offer the illusion of giving a free phone - which wou
  • Class action? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mewsenews (251487) on Friday December 10, 2010 @07:40PM (#34519582) Homepage

    Jailbreaking became legally protected recently. Disabling functionality when a jailbreak is detected seems like it might open Apple to a class action lawsuit.

    I'm sure they're legally allowed to say that jailbreaking voids the warranty, but I'm not sure they're willing to risk crippling a jailbreaker's device with an api flag.

    "Sorry, you can't play our game because you jailbroke your phone" -- if Apple encouraged app developers to do this, things could get nasty.

    IANAL - this post is total speculation

    • by rabbit994 (686936)

      I think API was more for IT Admins so they could disable phones or throw them off ActiveSync server if they get jailbroken. I know we only support Android with TouchDown after we found users installing No Lock application on their Android phones that would remove password requirement. Our sales group decided that locking screen after 10 minutes was too annoying.

      • by mewsenews (251487)

        I guess that's what I get for not reading the article. If a company owns the phones, they can do whatever monitoring they want on them. It might simply have been a case of Apple realizing that a call to is_this_device_jailbroken() would be the first thing any new jailbreaks subvert..

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        How does touchdown get around that?

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Tell them to install screeble instead, that way the phone stays unlocked while in the range of orientation that it has when you hold it.

    • I'm sure they're legally allowed to say that jailbreaking voids the warranty, but I'm not sure they're willing to risk crippling a jailbreaker's device with an api flag.

      Microsoft has got away with it on Xbox and Xbox 360, banning jailbreakers from Xbox Live.

      • by anss123 (985305)
        On the xbox 360 they hack the DVD drive as, AFAIK, it's not jailbroken yet.

        Now that ARM CPUs is starting to support virtualization I expect to see tougher protection on cell phones, similar to what's on the PS3 and 360, though it's a bit expensive since you need to embed a ROM on the CPU.
      • MS gets away with it because the Xbox isnt a phone. The exception to the DMCA seems to be (smart)phone specific. Additionally, MS has a bigger interest in keeping up security for the sake of their online community. Modders quickly become cheaters who become a nuisance to those who play fairly
        • Yet this has never been a great problem in the PC gaming area. Well, other than Counterstrike. It isn't about the online community - it's about subsidised hardware. Consoles operate on the same business model as printers. The initial hardware is sold at a loss, on the expectation of making enough profit on the games (Or ink) to make that back and then some more. There are two things which can ruin this business model: Pirate or independant, unlicenced games (Akin to third-party ink cartridges) and people w
    • by nurb432 (527695)

      That is the most likely answer. That and the "cat and mouse game" gets expensive after a while too.

  • by metalmaster (1005171) on Friday December 10, 2010 @08:17PM (#34519932)
    are ya sure it hasn't just been retooled to become

    super_secret_function()

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