When you use an Android phone, you can download applications outside the Google Play store. While downloading and installing applications from third-party stores can be risky, many users prefer to do this option when an app isn’t available through the Google Play store.

In comparison, Apple doesn’t allow third-party app stores and apps to be used on iPhone devices. This closed-world model means that you’re limited to the available apps within the App Store. To bypass this limitation, users can jailbreak iPhone devices. Taking this step will open up a range of possibilities that weren’t available beforehand.

If you’re an Apple owner and want to know more about this process, this guide offers an in-depth look at what jailbreaking is, the pros and cons of jailbreaking, and how you can repair a jailbroken phone.

What Is Jailbreaking and What Does It Do?

Jailbreaking is the process of unlocking a closed-world device to gain full access to its operating system and administrator account. Total access allows the user to remove or modify software restrictions imposed by the manufacturer.

The jailbreaking term typically refers to Apple iPhone devices since they are the most locked-down phones available on the market. Jailbreaking became popular because the first few iPhone models have many app restrictions. At that time, the App Store wasn’t around and AT&T was the only carrier that supported Apple. Now, nearly every carrier and licensed application is compatible with iPhone devices.

What Happens If You Jailbreak Your iPhone

Many users jailbreak Apple devices because they want the device to be as open as Android devices, which is certainly possible through jailbreaking. When a phone has become jailbroken, you can install apps not licensed by Apple and customize your phone’s interface.

While Apple iPhone models are the primary devices that can be jailbroken, it’s also possible for gaming consoles and similar devices to go through the jailbreaking process. Under the Apple brand, iPad and iPod Touch devices can also be jailbroken. This process won’t delete the main features that the device has, but it will apply new codes to unlock additional features and functionality.

Dig Deeper: How Does Jailbreaking Or Rooting Affect My Mobile Device Security?

Is Jailbreaking Legal?

Jailbreaking is generally not illegal in most countries, but keep in mind that lawmakers alter laws on jailbreaking every few years. The process of jailbreaking phones didn’t become legal until 2010. This policy, however, doesn’t mean that it’s legal to install apps obtained illegally. If you want to jailbreak your device, it’s important to understand that Apple doesn’t directly support this process. However, they also won’t pursue legal action against anyone who decides to jailbreak their device.

Is Jailbreaking Dangerous?

Jailbreaking isn’t necessarily safe and can increase the possibility of security risks entering your phone. The App Store won’t and can’t screen any apps that you download and install on a jailbroken device, which means that you’re taking a risk just by downloading the apps in question. Depending on where the app is downloaded from, it’s always possible that the application could contain a virus or malware that can infect your phone and potentially steal your data. Your phone will also no longer receive regular iOS updates; it can become exposed to some of the latest cybersecurity threats.

Potential Security Risks Associated with Jailbreaking

Apple perfectly knows what jailbreaking is and believes that it is in direct violation of the terms and conditions you agreed to when you first purchased the phone. The main reason that Apple is against this practice is that it opens your phone to several different risks, which include:

  • A shortened battery life
  • Possible freezes and crashes that are caused by the phone becoming less stable
  • Security vulnerabilities
  • Stability issues

Advantages of Jailbreaking

Despite the risks inherent with the jailbreaking process, users perform this process for a reason. Several notable benefits come with jailbreaking Apple iPhone. The benefits range from installing unauthorized applications to having enhanced control over the phone.

You Can Install and Use Apps That Aren’t Authorized

Because of potential security issues, Apple doesn’t approve every application for its App Store. When you jailbreak a phone, you will have the option to download and install apps that aren’t available on the App Store. These unauthorized apps could be anything from networking tools to games.

Apps That Are Pre-Installed on Your Phone Can Be Removed

An oft-overlooked benefit of jailbreaking a phone is that you’ll be able to get rid of pre-installed apps on your phone that you never use. Applications like Games Center and Apple Watch are considered default apps that typically can’t be deleted. If you would rather use programs outside the App Store, deleting pre-installed apps can free up space for the apps you prefer.

You Will Have Additional Control Over the Phone

Apple iPhone models all have a similar look and feel to them, which Apple believes allows for strong branding. While this kind of unified branding may benefit Apple, it doesn’t allow you to personalize your device easily. If you decide to jailbreak your iPhone, you can add menus, icons, and wallpapers that weren’t available before. Instead of Apple, you will technically be the administrator for your device of choice. Users with jailbroken phones will also have more extensive access to the file system on the device.

Disadvantages of Jailbreaking

Even though some distinct benefits come with jailbreaking an Apple iPhone, there are also numerous disadvantages that you should understand before going through with the process.

Your Phone Won’t Update Automatically

The most prominent issue that comes with using a jailbroken iPhone is that you won’t receive automatic iOS updates. These updates are designed first and foremost to enhance the security features of your phone. When these updates don’t occur, your device will become increasingly susceptible to viruses, malware, and other cybersecurity threats. While each major iOS update is eventually jailbroken, these updates won’t be available for a substantial period.

Dig Deeper: iPhone Update — Apply It Now If You Haven’t Already

Phone’s Warranty is Voided

Your iPhone warranty is automatically voided when you jailbreak it, which means that Apple can deny service if you need to have your phone repaired. As such, you will be tasked with attempting repairs on your own or taking the device to a non-affiliated phone repair shop.

Your Device May Crash More Often

A top reason that Apple doesn’t support jailbreaking is that they only allow apps and features that they have tested extensively before launching. When you download apps that aren’t available on the App Store, these applications will still have access to many facets of your iPhone, which worsens stability and increases the likelihood that crashes will occur.

You May Lose Access to Certain Services and Content

Even though jailbreaking a phone is designed to provide users with access to more apps and features, this process may cause you to lose access to some services and content provided by the manufacturer. It’s been found that apps like FaceTime, iCloud, iMessage, and Apple Pay may not work as intended on jailbroken devices.

Security Issues Are Likely

The main reason why you should avoid jailbreaking your iPhone is because of security issues. Since the iOS platform is closed, it’s considered to be highly secure. When you jailbreak an iPhone, you will have the ability to download third-party apps that could contain viruses or other threats. Since you will no longer receive regular iOS updates, you won’t gain the security features and advancements that other uses would receive.

Dig Deeper: Are third party apps for you?

The possible entry of viruses, malware, or spyware exposes your phone to severe damage and cybersecurity threats. You’ll then need to know how to remove viruses from your iPhone when this happens.

Tips for Repairing a Jailbroken Phone

If you have already performed the jailbreaking process on your Apple iPhone but find that you don’t like the risks that come with it, you can take steps to reverse this process. Here are the steps to reverse a jailbreak:

  • Connect the iPhone to a Mac or PC with the appropriate USB cable
  • Launch the iTunes program on your computer
  • Unlock the iDevice and switch off the Unlock My iPhone feature
  • Head over to Settings before tapping Your Name and selecting iCloud
  • Click on the Find My iPhone feature and toggle this feature to “Off”. To complete this step, you will need to enter the Apple ID and password for your account.
  • Select the iDevice on iTunes when it comes up.
  • Head over to the Summary panel, after which you should select the Restore button.
  • Your device will now restart and ask you to restore it directly from a backup that you’ve created. If you have a backup on the iCloud, you can restore your device from this file.
  • Once this process has been completed, your Apple iPhone will be restored to factory settings.

Final Thoughts

Jailbreaking an iPhone will expand your device’s functionality and give you access to apps and features not on the App Store. However, completing this process may also open the device to cybersecurity threats, which is why it’s highly recommended that you only jailbreak iPhone devices or any closed-world device if you understand the risks involved with doing so.

If you want to know more about cybersecurity, including how to improve your device’s security and avoid cyber threats, seek help from McAfee. We have the necessary type of protection for your iOS device to protect you and your digital life.