in AT&T, iOS, jailbreak, tech

Jailbreaking is still frowned upon

In the past few years, BYOD has flourished and people have been unlocked from old, clunky Blackberries and attached to Apples and various candies. But with all this openness has come a problem – that of jailbreaking.

Jailbreaking the iOS or rooting your Android device are frowned upon by the enterprise because of the apparent security problems and the costs of supporting un-supported functions that these devices can do. In that sense, a new idea is emerging – that of Android being the standard. Android is open and allows anyone to pick it up and start modifying it to its needs. What does that drive companies to? Using Android as a standard and expecting their employees to do the same.

The main contention is that jailbreaking is in itself a security flaw. Thus, it’d be very easy for the employee to install the wrong tweak from the Cydia store and lose all the company’s vital data. Or, in case the employee is not careful, they can brick their device while jailbreaking and then expect the company’s IT department to support them.

Most of the problems that the enterprise quotes against jailbreaking is not valid anymore.

The process of jailbreaking is perhaps 99.9% safe now, with only every a couple of devices reporting bricking of devices due to unconventional installs. The mass of the common public just downloads a program, connects their device, clicks a button and they’re done. Also, this process is purely software based now, so the chances of really bricking your device? Zero. Why? Because if something goes wrong, you just start iTunes and hit “Restore”.

What about the security issues? Let’s talk about the jailbreak devs themselves. All of the devs involved are working for free. No one is truly paying them to do it, except the few donations they receive. That means that they do not have any hidden interests in the process. Do you trust OpenSource or software developers on Github and SourceForge to not steal your identity or corporate data? Do you use Ubuntu at home because, “hey, it’s free”? Then there’s no reason not to trust these devs to do the right thing and not use security flaws to steal your data. In fact, the iOS 3 hack involving jailbreaking the device simply by downloading a PDF file from the Internet helped Apple fixed a bug that could have been misused by anyone else. The devs welcomed Apple’s security update that fixed that jailbreak.

Finally, what about the tweaks that people install? Well, when it comes to getting the right installs with no bugs, I trust only one name – BigBoss. It is a repo hosting provider that hosts paid and free tweaks in Cydia. The point? It’s a safe environment where tweaks are tested before being allowed to go to the general public. And if a company is really serious about setting up a BYOD environment, they can work with these repository hosting providers to test and approve tweaks that work on the iOS.

There’s a general misconception in the public and in companies that since Android is open and so freely available, it’s easier to support Android. Not true. Android devices are heavily fragmented. Amazon’s Kindle Fire cannot do many things that an Asus tablet can. That functionality may also include SSL, Wireless security and other encrypted email. To support so many devices and so many versions of the same OS can be a much bigger pain for Enterprises.

Instead, if we look at iOS, non-jailbroken devices are freely supported by Apple (how do you un-jailbreak a device? Simply restore the OS, Apple has no way of verifying that it was ever jailbroken) and jailbroken devices will still have the same platform as the first one. There is no fragmentation in Apple devices, no multiple versions of their OS running on devices of varying hardware capabilities.

End Game? Apple devices are a lot easier to support, fix and troubleshoot than other options. Time to change your perception.