Home > All, Security Issues > Absinthe – jailbreaking the Apple 4S

Absinthe – jailbreaking the Apple 4S

January 23, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

There is a new jailbreak for the Apple 4S called Absinthe (a strong alcoholic drink prepared from wormwood and largely banned for its toxicity). I have written about this for Infosecurity Magazine here.

But what I want to consider now is perhaps more philosophic: is a jailbroken iPhone basically an Android? Opinions vary.

David Harley, the independent researcher behind the Mac Virus website, thinks ‘not really’. Jailbreaking alters the Apple’s kernel. If this is done you would get no further support from Apple. As a result, software that really requires co-operation between the developer of the software and the developer of the hardware would be at a disadvantage. Anti-virus software running on a jailbroken Apple, for example, would suffer. “So no,” he says, “jailbreaking isn’t precisely analogous to an unrooted Android: while most Android AV is pretty patchy in performance, you can get AV that could be described as commercial standard.”

Luis Corrons, PandaLabs

Luis Corrons

But yes, thinks Luis Corrons of PandaLabs. “At the end of the day, the main difference between both platforms is that Android gives me, as a user, the option to decide what applications I want to install.” Confirming his view, Luis has a jailbroken iPad 1 and used to use a jailbroken iPhone 3GS (which he has now replaced with an Android Galaxy SII).

David Emm

David Emm

Kaspersky’s David Emm has a similar view. “It’s the commercial models taken by Apple and Google that are different.” The result of these commercial differences is that a jailbroken Apple has access to hundred of thousands of secure apps plus a few hundred unknown apps from Cydia Store. Android users have access to hundreds of thousands of unknown apps. The inference I draw, unstated by David, is that a jailbroken iPhone remains more secure, albeit more restricted, than an Android.

So what can we conclude? Not a lot really. If you jailbreak an iPhone you can technically gain the freedom inherent in an Android – but since most users will still be limited to third-party apps, you don’t gain many more. And you lose the security of the iPhone. In the final analysis, you simply pay your money and take your choice: Apple if you want security; Android if you want freedom. Jailbreaking seems to give you neither.
Kaspersky
PandaLabs
Absinthe download (unchecked, unverified)

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Categories: All, Security Issues
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