The Ramifications of Jailbreaking Your Smartphone
Introduction and Overview of the Last Article
The Smartphone happens to be a very valued device to not only individuals but to businesses and corporations as well. After all, it offers many conveniences, and advantages to which even using a Notebook or other type of portable computing device may not offer.
In this regard, its biggest bonus is that it can be used anytime, and anywhere from any point on the globe (this, of course, assuming that your carrier has international reach).
Both our personal and work related matters can be conducted upon it. However, even despite all of this, we still continue to demand more and more out of our Smartphone. Really, in a way, it seems that over a period, we can become “bored” with the functionalities that are provided it by the manufacturer.
Unfortunately, though, the wireless vendors have a put a limit to how much can be installed or configured on an iPhone, Samsung, or a Windows Mobile device. The primary reason for this is the issue of Security.
As a result of this, the tech savvy end user (and even the Cyber attacker) are constantly looking for ways to bypass these Security mechanisms, so that eventually, he or she can gain full, or administrative privileges to their Smartphone device.
Very often, this is not an easy task to achieve, so the individual resorts to various hacking attempts to literally “break” through and penetrate the Security mechanisms of the wireless device in question. Once this has been achieved, he or she will then have complete, one hundred percent control over their particular brand of Smartphone.
The process just illustrated is known in technical terms as “Jailbreaking,” and was the focal point of the last article. The ultimate goal of this is altering or even completely destroying the Configuration Profile of the Smartphone so that any and all restrictions can be eradicated on the Smartphone.
As it was also discussed, the term “Jailbreaking” is a rather broad one, and it has been further categorized by the type and kind of mobile device in question.
For instance, hacking into the iPhone is once again referred to as “Jailbreaking,” and one of the main interests is to bypass the Security kernel. With regards to the Samsung device, this is known as “Rooting,” and the main intention here is to gain the administrative rights and permissions that are associated with it.
Finally, with the Windows Mobile device, the process if known as “Unlocking,” and the primary goal is to alter, modify, or even eradicate the Registry Keys that come with the Windows 10 Operating System.
Our last article also reviewed at length the specific reasons why the end user “Jailbreaks” into their Smartphone device. Some do it just for the sheer thrill of it, or to simply remove the “bloatware” which comes with the device.
However, there is one common denominator between all of these major brands of Smartphones: To have the ability to install rogue mobile apps which are not authorized by the wireless carrier, or which are not available on the App Store or Google Play.
The Ramifications to Be Dealt With
If you have successfully “Jailbroken” your Smartphone, yes, in a theoretical sense, you do have complete control over, and it can pretty much install or do anything you want to do with it. However, as with all other parts of life, there are consequences to the choices that we make, and this even holds true for “Jailbreaking.”
Although one may think how serious this can be because they are just hacking into their own Smartphone, the truth of the matter is that the consequences can be very real, and have a profound impact. It may not be felt immediately, but it will after a longer period. The goal of this article is to review some of these consequences, which are as follows:
“Jailbreaking” can be illegal:
In some countries around the world, especially in Canada, “Jailbreaking” is an explicit crime, and can carry serious legal repercussions with it if one is caught. However, however, here in the United States, determining whether or not “Jailbreaking” is illegal or not is a much murkier issue, and thus can only be determined on a case by case basis in a court of law. One of the main reasons for this is the specific piece of legislation known as the “Digital Millennium Copyright Act” (also known as the “DMCA”). It was passed in 1998 by the Clinton Administration to protect the copyrights which are inherent in Digital Media, particularly those of Mobile Applications. Since a mobile app is also considered to be Intellectual Property, the DMCA was also passed to also protect the rights of the inventor and the owner of a particular mobile app. It is important to keep in mind that the DMCA was also designed to protect other forms of content which are created and stored digitally. However, given how broad and far-reaching digital content can be, from time to time, there are certain exemptions made to this complex legislation. These are created and enforced by the Library of Congress (the “LoC”), and in July 2010, it declared that “Jailbreaking” is not illegal, because technically, it has nothing to do with copyright protection. However, there are “hidden” exceptions to this ruling. For example, once a Smartphone is “Jailbroken,” it makes use of any wireless carrier. So, if an individual hacked into their Samsung device and gained the administrative privileges to the Android Operating System, he or she can easily switch wireless carriers, say from Verizon to AT&T. This is an actual crime and thus would make Jailbreaking in this circumstance completely illegal. The maximum penalty here would be just a fine. However, if you are a business entity which is offering tools or software to “Jailbreak” a Smartphone device, you could not only face a fine but criminal charges as well, under Subsection 1204 of the DMCA which clearly stipulates the following:
“(a) IN GENERAL.—Any a person who violates section 1201 or 1202 willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain—
(1) shall be fined not more than $500,000 or imprisoned for not more than five years, or both, for the first offense; and
(2) shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned for not more than ten years, or both, for any subsequent offense.”
However, to make this legislation clearer, as of October 28, 2012, the DMCA stipulates that specifically “Jailbreaking” into a known tablet which runs either an iOS or an Android/Windows Operating System is a clear violation of the law, thus is a punishable felony.
Your Smartphone becomes a “Black Hole”:
After you have “Jailbroken” your Smartphone, you now have the freedom, for the most part, do whatever you want to do with it. However, now, you do not know what is happening behind the scenes to your Smartphone. Before the “Jailbreak,” at least the Configuration Profile enforced a reasonable layer of Security, and thus you had some reasonable level of assurance that your Smartphone was not easily prone to an Eavesdropping Attack. However, now, anything is possible, and you have no idea you could be covertly listening in on your private conversations in the background.
The Smartphone is now much more susceptible to a Cyber based attack:
After your Smartphone has been “Jailbroken” into, literally speaking all defenses are down. In other words, there is a zero layer of protection which now exists on the Smartphone. As a result, it is now prone to just about any kind or type of Cyber-attack, in which the hacker can steal all of your confidential files and login information. The unfortunate part of this is that you will never know that you have become a victim until it is way too late to recover because these kinds of attacks occur in a very covert manner.
There could be a serious drainage on the battery life and other system resources rendering the Smartphone to be totally unstable:
Now that with a “Jailbroken” you have the ability to install whatever mobile app you want to, there is a flip side to this well: These third party mobile apps often use up much more resources, thus tasking the Central Processing Unit and the battery of your Smartphone to well beyond its design limitations. As a result of this, your iPhone 6 may originally have an intended battery life of ten hours or more, but after the “Jailbreak” it can be cut down as much as by half. The end resultant is that you now have a Smartphone which is much more unstable and unpredictable than ever before.
You could void your warranty:
When you purchase or upgrade to a new Smartphone, you can also get a Warranty Plan in case your device is lost, or stolen, or is simply malfunctioning. However, if you “Jailbreak” your Smartphone, you could very well void your warranty, especially if you have an iPhone. Recently, Apple has been notorious for enforcing this on any “Jailbroken” wireless device.
The Risk of Unknown and Malicious Third Party Mobile Apps:
Apple and Samsung at present have strict policies on downloading mobile apps. That is, you can only download them from the App Store or Google Play, respectively. Also, you must be an account holder and be further verified via the use of Digital Certificates. This totally ensures that the mobile apps which are available for download are authentic and to a certain degree, bug-free. However, as stated earlier in this article, the primary intention of “Jailbreaking” a Smartphone is to install third party mobile apps which are not available on either store. However, now that you have the ability to do this, there is no guarantee that these types of mobile apps are authentic, and in the end, could contain malicious code. Also, a Cyber attacker could tempt you into downloading a mobile app which could direct you to a spoofed website, in which you are tricked into entering your username and password, or even your financial information.
It will be very difficult to upgrade to the newest version of the Operating System:
With the iPhone, Samsung and Windows Mobile phone devices, you are alerted with a notification that the latest version of their respective Operating System is ready to be downloaded and installed onto your Smartphone. However, with a “Jailbroken” device, this notification process is totally eradicated, and you will never know when the newest Operating System has been released. Thus, the only way to upgrade a “Jailbroken” device is to render your Smartphone back into a non-“Jailbroken” state. However, there is a twist to this in that this process can only be accomplished by the use of a newer version of the “Jailbreak” software. So for example, if you used the “Jailbreak” V1 software version to “Jailbreak” your Smartphone, you cannot use that same version again to render your Smartphone back into a non-“Jailbroken” state. This process can only be accomplished when the “Jailbreak” V2 software version comes out (and also keep in mind that there could very well be a long lag time when a new version is released).
The Smartphone will be wide open territory if it is ever lost or stolen:
The world of wireless technology has come to the point where devices have become very portable, and thus, can fit easily into your pocket. While this is a good thing, it can it has also had a downside: It can be easily lost or stolen. If this ever happens, you can easily protect your device and the information/data it contains by issuing the “Remote Wipe” command. Essentially, this deletes all of the files, contacts, etc. on your Smartphone, so that it does not fall into the hands of a malicious third party. However, with a “Jailbroken” Smartphone, this extra Security feature is rendered useless. The result of this is that if your “Jailbroken” Smartphone does indeed ever get lost or stolen, you will not be able to initiate the “Remote Wipe” command. Thus, all of your confidential information and data will be a treasure trove to the Cyber attacker.
In summary, this article has reviewed what some of the consequences are of “Jailbreaking” your Smartphone device, whether it be an iPhone, a Samsung, or a Windows Mobile. As it was discussed, in some countries, the penalties for “Jailbreaking” are very clear, but here in the United States, it is a more subjective issue to address, given the murkiness of the DMCA Legislation.
However, in the end, whether or not to “Jailbreak” a Smartphone is entirely up to the end user. Perhaps a much more tech-savvy individual would be much more tempted to attempt this process, versus an individual who does not understand much about technology. It all comes down to the ethics of the individual. However, a general rule of thumb is, if there are any doubts which persist in your mind about attempting a “Jailbreak,” then simply don’t do it. More than likely, in the long run, the costs will far outweigh the benefits of doing so.
Our future articles will examine Smartphone technology from different angles, such as that of the Mobile Wallet (examples of this include the Google Wallet and Apple Pay), as well as the use of Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) on a wireless device, making use of Biometric Technology.