Jailbreaking a digital device, especially an iPhone or Android mobile phone, is presented as a way to expand its capabilities. But doing so also limits your ability to protect yourself online from hackers and other cybercriminals.
Sophisticated electronic devices, such as mobile phones or gaming consoles, come with an abundance of great features and capabilities. Manufacturers build in software restrictions to prevent unauthorized tampering with their operating systems.
But people often like to get into a device’s operating system and install third-party software to expand the device’s capabilities. This is jailbreaking a device. It’s called that because it frees users from the “jail” of limitations. However, this action may open iOS devices and Android devices to security vulnerabilities which can lead to malware infection.
The best way to protect yourself from malware is to use electronic devices as they’re intended. Developers carefully design device security, and jailbreaking can undo that critical work and expose your devices and you to dangers.
Vulnerabilities in a Jailbroken Device
But are all jailbroken iPhones, iPads, Mac laptops, PCs, gaming consoles, and Android devices in danger, or are some tweaks and customizations not going to do much harm?
Many people who jailbreak phones and other devices do so in order to install apps from the app store that aren’t authorized by the device‘s maker (e.g. Google Inc., Apple, Xbox, etc.). While this can seem like a good idea, it does subvert important security measures and protections that keep you safe.
Another vulnerability that a jailbroken device exposes you to is legal prosecution. According to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it’s illegal to get around digital locks put in place by hardware and software makers. This law protects the copyright holders who make money off songs, games, and other forms of digital media that can be more easily stolen with a jailbroken device.
There’s more. Jailbroken phones and devices experience service disruption more often, including disruptions to push notifications, voice, WiFi, video streaming capabilities, text, data use, and even a shortened battery life. Jailbreaking your phone will also cause it to freeze and crash more often. Another negative? When people jailbreak their phone or device the act almost always renders the warranty on it void.
Why Do People Jailbreak Devices?
There are a lot of different and appealing reasons why people jailbreak iPhones, Android phones, and other connected devices. Using jailbreaking software, apps, and jailbreak tools, individuals and members of different jailbreaking communities jailbreak their devices in order to customize them, extend their features, and engage in piracy with less fear of getting caught.
There’s even an unofficial jailbreak app store where paid and free apps can be downloaded to jailbroken phones. It’s called Cydia, and while some of the apps can extend the features of your iPhone or Android phone, it still requires a reduction in your device’s security to work, exposing you to security risks that you cannot fully anticipate or protect yourself from.
The risks of jailbreaking just aren’t worth it. While it may seem to offer a lot of possibilities, not all those possibilities are positive. Stick with what the manufacturer designed to stay safe and to keep your phone and other devices working well long into the future.
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Learn more about jailbreaking and digital piracy on our FAQs page.