Last week the news about yet another non-belligerent iPhone worm did the rounds and people responded by saying things like “How silly jailbreaker’s are for not changing their SSH root passwords,” and “It’s only a matter of time until a worm appears that’s not so friendly…” […]


Last week the news about yet another non-belligerent iPhone worm did the rounds and people responded by saying things like “How silly jailbreaker’s are for not changing their SSH root passwords,” and “It’s only a matter of time until a worm appears that’s not so friendly…” OK, yes, geeky people said those things. Normals will likely never know that jailbreaking is something you can do to a phone.

Well, the predictions of gloom have proven true. Over the last few days, and reported by The Mac Observer, a new worm has been identified. This one, (so-far limited to iPhone owners in the Netherlands), takes advantage of the exact same SSH-exploit as the previous worm. Once on a user’s iPhone, it circumvents Mobile Safari’s anti-phishing technology to present a spoof of a popular banking website. Users are tricked into handing over their online banking authentication details. The worm spreads from iPhone to iPhone, but is limited to jailbroken handsets connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

Apple has weighed-in with its own sage wisdom and advice on the matter. Speaking to The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple, Apple spokesperson Natalie Harrison said:

The worm affects only a very specific set of iPhone users who have jail broken their iPhones and hacked it with unauthorized software. As we’ve said before, the vast majority of customers do not jailbreak their iPhones, and for good reason. These hacks not only violate the warranty, they will also cause the iPhone to become unstable and not work reliably.

If you live in the Netherlands and have jailbroken your iPhone and installed SSH, you need to change the default password to protect yourself from this particular exploit. Just don’t think you’ll be safe — Apple might keep the iPhone platform locked-down tight, but you can’t argue against the obvious security advantages of doing so. To date, there have been four confirmed worms “in the wild” on jailbroken iPhones. How many confirmed worms have appeared in the wild that affect non-jailbroken iPhones? There you have it.

The Real Question Is…

But the real question, as I see it, is this; who jailbreaks any more? I mean, really… who? Why? The single biggest reason people originally went to the trouble of jailbreaking their iPhones was due to frustration at the lack of native apps. (Back in the early days of iPhone ownership, and before the app store existed, only Apple’s own home-grown apps were locally installed on the device. Every third-party apps ran inside Mobile Safari and, therefore, required access to the Internet.) I did a lot of travel back then, usually by air and train, so I didn’t always have a reliable Internet connection; this rendered most of my web apps useless. That annoyed me, and I very nearly did the whole jailbreaking thing just so I could install applications locally that would work irrespective of an active Internet connection. (Ultimately I wussed-out, too afraid I’d permanently mess-up my precious — and expensive — iPhone.)

But that was then, and times have changed.. What other compelling reasons were there to void Apple’s iPhone warranty? MMS, video recording, exchange server support, multitasking and Copy & Paste were the “most missed” features. Today we have more apps than you can shake an iPhone at. We have MMS and video recording, exchange support and copy & paste.

The only thing missing is “true” multitasking, but for the vast majority of iPhone owners (for whom multitasking is another way of saying “I want instant messaging!”), Apple’s Push Notification Service does a decent job of balancing productive multitasking with preserving battery life.

So… why jailbreak? Is it a form of protest against Apple’s broken application approval process? Is it because you absolutely must replace the default icons with something far less classy? Perhaps you can’t live without tethering? Tell us in the comments the (few) remaining reasons for jailbreaking an iPhone.

Just please don’t say it’s for geek cred… I might cry!

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  1. I have an 3G and when not jailbroken, I can’t make video’s. And I don’t have the cash to buy an 3GS. I also like the freedom I have to program my own little applications, with out paying Apple just $100,- so I can install my own. It’s not commercial stuff, just to make my own live easier.

  2. Here you can find Top 10 Reason to Jailbreak your iPhone – http://www.machackpc.com/iphone/3g/reasons-to-jailbreak-your-iphone/

    1. That list was fine…until I got to the part where you advertise “cracked apps” as a reason to jailbreak. Piracy is wrong — it is stealing, and I am really disappointed that you would promote this. Most jailbreakers are NOT pirates, and pirates are the scum of jailbreaking community (and forget your lame disclaimer).

      There are dozens of super creative apps in the Cydia store that turn the iPhone from something cool into something absolutely incredible — they do things that Apple’s engineers are probably only barely thinking up for iPhone OS 4 or 5, and they are here today for jailbreakers who are willing to do the honest thing and pay a few bucks to encourage independent software development.

      With all this legitimate, legal “booty” around, telling people that they should use cracked apps from the Apple app store is not only wrong, it is just stupid.

  3. I live in India, and have an AT & T iPhone, which won’t work on my native Vodafone unless i’ve bought it from them (:P UGHHH, 6K more) or jailbroken and unlocked. Plus, there’s still the odd app Cydia helps you out where the 100,000 can’t.

  4. I jailbreak. In fact, it’s the only thing that’s prevented me from breaking my contract and going to a different carrier. In my opinion, there are three programs that more than justify jailbreaking the phone:

    1) Backgrounder
    2) GV Mobile
    3) SBSettings

    These three apps enable features that the iPhone *should* allow in the app store or build in by default. (Actually, GVMobile was allowed, until Apple decided that Google Voice might compete with them turned into a bad caricature of Microsoft.)

  5. two words–Google Voice

  6. The main reason I jailbroke my phone was so I could change the SMS message received sound to whatever I wanted. I don’t know why Apple doesnt provide this functionality. I also bought an app from the Cydia store that allows me to respond to incoming SMS messages from wherever I am on the phone without having to quit what I am doing and launch SMS App.

    Both of these are nice features which enhance
    my phone. and the risk of jailbreaking is zero – assuming you are not an absolute idiot who leaves SSH turned on without setting your own passwords!

  7. I used to jailbreak my iPhone but I don’t feel like I need to anymore. I used to so that I could unlock my O2 iPhone for Orange. Since Orange released the iPhone, I’d rather stay clear of anyone invading my iPhone in the near future.

  8. According to the latest states from Pinch Media (the iPhone analytics company) just under 10% of all iPhone users have jailbroken their phones. Thats an amazingly high percentage — can anyone think of another consumer device in which 10% of the users have essentially hacked it to increase functionality unofficially?

    I think this points to the fact that even now, in the era of the app store and the 3.0 software, there is a lot of frustration with how much Apple locks down the phone.

    FWIW, I jailbroke my phone for the same reason that I choose what software I run on my Mac — because it is MY computer and MY phone.

    1. I would say that 10% includes a lot of units where the device was jail-broken to unlock the baseband rather then for the Applications. There were millions of Iphones jail-broken for grey market sales in countries not officially supported by Apple. The frustration with Apple and their store policies is probably in the noise level. Most folks are happy with what Apple delivers, a small vocal minority are trying to make things better which I applauded, but the average consumer probably doesn’t care.

  9. Uh just turn OFF your SSH settings on the phone. Then no one can access it. It’s really not that hard, especially if you have sbs settings installed.

  10. The main reason to jailbreak is since on this side of the Atlantic you can not buy unlocked iPhones (well, on ebay it is possible, but not as convenient as walking into a store) as you can in almost all parts of Europe. Yes, they do cost much more initially, but since I’m traveling all over Americas (Everywhere from Canada down to Argentina) buying a local SIM card from a local provider and using services like rebtel makes it much much cheaper then roaming.

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