Apple Strikes Blow Against Dev Team, Kills Downgrades And Untethered Jailbreaks in iOS 5

Apple Strikes Blow Against Dev Team, Kills Downgrades And Untethered Jailbreaks in iOS 5

Come iOS 5, Apple might finally win the war against jailbreakers. Even if the Dev Team prevails, though, Apple still might succeed in limiting jailbreaking to tethered exploits only, as well as finally axe the ability for users to downgrade to older versions of iOS.

According to the Dev Team, the latest iOS 5 betas axes the ability to save their SHSH blobs, which is what allows users to downgrade to previous iOS firmware versions through iTunes.

For jailbreakers, that means that the ability to roll back to a previous version of iOS will be limited to pre-iOS 5 firmwares, and even then only using older versions of iTunes. It’s not live now, but Apple can turn it on anytime they want.

Even from a non-jailbreaking perspective, it’s a troubling development: if Apple bones up a future iOS release as badly as they boned up iOS 4’s release for the iPhone 3GS, users will be powerless to downgrade to a version of iOS that works better.

It gets worse, though.

Starting with the iOS5 beta, the role of the “APTicket” is changing — it’s being used much like the “BBTicket” has always been used.  The LLB and iBoot stages of the boot sequence are being refined to depend on the authenticity of the APTicket, which is uniquely generated at each and every restore (in other words, it doesn’t depend merely on your ECID and firmware version…it changes every time you restore, based partly on a random number).  This APTicket authentication will happen at every boot, not just at restore time.  Because only Apple has the crypto keys to properly sign the per-restore APTicket, replayed APTickets are useless.

Right now, what this means is that all existing non-tethered jailbreaking methods (i.e. jailbreaks that require the jailbreaking exploit to be rerun every reboot) will be toast when iOS 5 hits the update waves. The only exception will be geohot’s tethered limera1n exploit, which runs before the APTicket in the boot sequence.

So here where we are right now. In iOS 5, you’ll be more tightly locked into your current firmware than ever before, and unless the Dev Team finds some new exploits, tethered jailbreaking may be the only future iDevice jailbreaking has left. How will the mouse wiggle out of the cat’s paws this time?

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  • dagamer34

    The real shame is that a lot of Apple’s “original” ideas come from jailbreakers. I just want them to copy SBSettings already. -_-

  • prof_peabody

    The best possible outcome for the users, would be if jailbreaking becomes a very *rare* thing that almost no one actually does, but is still always *possible* to do.  For that reason, it would be better if the tech blogs like this one stopped promoting the practice. 

    The more public the war is, the more Apple will fight it, and while jailbreakers always think they will triumph, it’s more because of their boundless egos than any facts.  Apple *could* actually win at some point too.  Then we all lose jailbreaking forever.  

  • beetleguise

    There is a built-in function in xcode that can allows users to easily downgrade from ios 5b2. I seriously doubt apple will take this away from developers. At 5 dollars (if you didn’t previously dl it), its not a steep investment. 

  • Danielsw

    Apple has every right and, indeed, obligation to protect its IP, as well as to protect the apparent integrity of its hardware. I am pleased that it continues to take an aggressive stance as well as aggressive actions in this.

  • applesandsynths

    We, the users of their product have every right to customize our purchased hardware as we see fit. Jailbreaking is LEGAL. Your argument is invalid.

  • Danielsw

    My argument IS valid, as your jailbreaking fetish gets harder and harder to satisfy.

  • koopapoopas

    That’s OK.  Jailbreakers do it for the community, not for glory or money.

  • Sambo

    Wouldn’t be a Brownlee article without a typo.     “So here where we are right now.”

    One would think that you would start proofing what you write, John, with all these people calling you out all the time. Carelessness is not next to godliness.

  • koopapoopas

    Apple doesn’t have to waste time making it easier for you to jailbreak.  But if it loses money because jailbreakers stop buying its products, it better start making it easy.

  • Tim Pease

    Absolutely.  SBSettings provides a MUCH easier method to enable/disable functions that can save battery life.  And it’s easy enough for the average non-jailbreaker to use; swipe and tap.  I honestly don’t know why Apple hasn’t implemented the function yet.

  • fuck face

    Jailbreak is legal.. in Usa. Period.

  • welmr_

    Apple should allow people to jailbreak for 1 very good reason: Customization. One of the things that Android users say they have over iphones is customization. Well, this is true if your not jailbroken. If you take jailbreaking away, your taking the customers that buy your products TO jailbreak away. So apple is really only hurting itself here. I’m jailbroken on 4.2.8 and love it. In fact, i love it so much i will have to think about upgrading to iOS 5. i dont want to give away BiteSms quick reply.

  • djrobsd

    Screw ios5 then, I’ve already got most of its functionality built in thanks to the jailbreak community.  Unfortunately, Apple will require developers of apps to lock out previous versions of IOS, so you’ll be required to upgrade to IOS5 to use the latest version of your favorite app.

    I’m sure they will find more exploits and work arounds… It’s just like everything else that’s digital, there’s always a way to crack the code… I think the only company that’s been successful at keeping the code locked is DirecTV…  They have done an amazing job of locking out hackers… Haven’t seen a hacked DirecTV box in almost 10 years now.

  • Archer Sully

    Apple is not protecting its intellectual property, they are only making it harder for users to make legal use of their equipment, according to a Library of Congress Copyright Office administrative court ruling. Indeed, Apple doesn’t even make a “protecting IP” argument against Jailbreaking, the argument is that they are protecting the user experience. There is something to that argument, but it seems disingenuous, as jailbreaking is purely a voluntary practice, like opening up a stereo that says “no user serviceable parts inside.” 

    Personally, if Apple would provide unlocks for phones that are no longer on contract, I wouldn’t even bother jailbreaking. This is another legal use of the phone that Apple disallows.

  • Dilbert A

    He didn’t say it was illegal, just that Apple has a right to put as top to it.

  • Dilbert A

    I don’t see Apple losing money because jawbreakers stop buying their products. but there’s always Android for those that desire something different.

  • Dilbert A

    people hack DirectTV all the time, but I don’t know why you’ld want to, as that would be stealing.

    as far as ISO goes, if some finds a way to exploit security, yay?

  • Dilbert A

    there’s something I wish Apple would allow in their store, but I understand why they don’t.

    I think this is one of the reasons Apple hasn’t been as agessive as they could have been when it came to stoping jailbreaks.

  • Dilbert A

    the article is about IOS users not Apple IOS devs.

  • Gheedsgreed

    The awesomeness of iOS5 is starting to wear off in the face of this disappointing news. It’s like Apple is trying to piss me off even though I love my iPhone.

  • Hampus

    No, they will always fight it.
    Why? Because to do a jailbreak you need to find some way to exploit the software and those same exploits could be used for less friendly stuff, it’s Apples job to patch any found security vulnerabilities in their devices.

  • Hampus

    Yea it is legal. But to do it you have to exploit some kind of vulnerability in the software and Apple need to fix any such exploits found just as MS fixes security vulnerability sin Windows that malware could exploit, it’s just the way it works.

    Jailbreaking is legal, but it is within Apples full rights to fix any exploits found/used.

  • davidk

    Yes, Jailbreaking is legal, its also an example of a security hole.  Personally I don’t care if anyone else does or does not choose to jailbreak, thats their buisness, not mine.  But I DO care if my phone is less secure because of a security hole.  I would prefer that Apple close as many security bugs as they can even if that means that jailbreaking will be harder for the people who prefer to do it.

  • Brandon Dillon

    My Lord, you are a snob. Everyone understood what was meant. You don’t have to be a stuck-up asshole about something as insignificant as a typo.

    Assholisness is not next to godliness

  • mfd141

    It is unfortunate that Apple feels the need to lock down there products. They can patch all of the security issues and still allow me the freedom of choice. If this report is accurate, I may choose NOT to buy Apple products anymore. This is troublesome to me as I believe they make some of the best quality equipment out there. I hope they can find some middle ground to make there stand.

  • beetleguise

    True, in fact I am not a developer. I was pointing out the fact there are ways to downgrade that are supported by apple. One does not need to be a developer to utilize said method. 

  • Eliab Soto

    Theres a way to downgraded your iPhone running in ios 5 to 4.3.3, when i tried to downgraded using iTunes I started a program called 4media ipod to mac transfer and it allowed my iPhone to fully restore to the firmware. It work for me hope it work for you to.

  • Christopher Daniel

    Wow, what a stir these articles are creating huh?  Look y’all quite simply put.  It’s like this…  The ability to Jailbreak an iDevice is 100% Percent legal according to the United States Government.  Apple can defend it’s User Whatever y’all call it, but the right that we can and do have the ability to Customize and Jailbreak our iDevices as we see fit is, by all technicality out of Apple’s hands, and has been that way since the United States Government said so…  My honest opinion is that if Apple were to succeed in blocking/preventing/going against the United States Government ruling, a class action will soon follow.  The Dev’s of the jailbreak community, instead of trying to prove who can hack the “new and improved” iOS should be taking their fight,  along with the millions of us who are part of the Jailbreak community elsewhere, that matters…  We can sit and “discuss” it all day long, but until someone steps up to the plate, and shuts apple’s nonsense down, nothing will get resolved.  I strongly feel that a class action-type suit shall be in order, should Apple choose to continue going against the United States Government.  Just my opinion.

  • Infernova

    “if Apple bones up a future iOS release as badly as they boned up iOS 4”s release for the iPhone 3GS, users will be powerless to downgrade to a version of iOS that works better.”

    3GS was in fact unaffected in relation to performance. It was the 3G that was.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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