This Just In: A Quarter of a Million Jailbroken iPhones Compromised!

Many of those who have chosen to make an end-run around factory installed security and operating systems for devices know that jailbreaking is risky. Now, a new report last Sunday from a security firm in Palo Alto, identified over 250,000 jailbroken iPhones that have had their security compromised by hackers in a recent outbreak of cyberattacks.

One aspect of this problem is a piece of malware called KeyReader that’s targeting devices across 18 different countries. This malware goes into the MobileSubstrate utility and steals account information. KeyReader analyzes iTunes traffic and then takes various system account information that can change functionality on the devices or even hold them for ransom.

With over 225,000 Apple accounts stored in an unauthorized server, this is a big security breach. Security firms are still investigating how KeyReader uses an application called Cydia to gain access to accounts.

If you believe you may be affected, you can follow these steps from Palo Alto Networks to delete the infected files.

The Pros and Cons of Jailbreaking

As noted in the Tech Insider story, jailbreaking is becoming more unpopular, partly because users are recognizing the perils and risks, while enjoying less of the benefits.

To put it simply, a lot of big tech companies are preempting jailbreaking by offering more of the most popular services on their own legitimate platforms. Where in the past, jailbreaking helped people get access to neat new features and programs not offered by their own providers, firms like Apple are getting much more aggressive in offering a comprehensive user experience and consolidating their user base “into the fold”, keeping stragglers from going outside by jailbreaking devices.

The Philosophy of Jailbreaking

While the recent malware phenomenon is sobering to jailbreaking users, there’s also a little bit more to the story in terms of what we give up for the security that we get. By making the outside world a scarier place, providers are able to gain more of a hold on their consumers. They may even begin to collect a lot of personal user information through the secure platforms in ways that are less than transparent. It’s still a question of privacy versus security, where advocates for individual users are looking critically at how these big companies operate. If they’re making it too dangerous to go outside the system, and everyone stays inside, that means people should be even more vigilant about what happens inside those “walled gardens” and thinking critically about what happens as a result.

Security is often a collective goal — companies and individuals try to limit the scope of malware and malicious cyberattacks. But beyond that, there is a very rough calculus involving how tech companies and individual users might work at cross purposes or have different goals and objectives. Consumer advocates want to make sure that the rights of the individual are respected in a world where the next big thing is such a collective phenomenon. And that means looking at big moves made by tech companies, as well as the climate “inside and “outside” of corporately sanctioned systems.

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Renee Biana

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