To ensure a high level of quality, stability, and security along with a uniform user experience, Apple built numerous controls into the iOS – the iPhone operating system – that restrict how applications run and what they can do on iPhones and other iOS devices.
- Reduced attack surface – There are fewer apps to exploit and traditionally vulnerable subsystems like Java and Flash are not allowed to run on iOS at all.
- Privilege separation – Most applications run in a mode that limits what they can do to the iOS file system and how they can interact with each other. There is no “root” users access – like you have on Linux – so you can’t erase important files and kill essential iOS processes.
- Code signing – Each iOS application sold on the AppStore must be given a signature by Apple to allow them to run on an iOS device. Apple tests all applications to make sure they are stable and secure before authorizing for sale on the AppStore.
- Sandboxing – Applications run in an isolated environment or “sandbox” that limits their access to iOS system resources.
Jailbreaking and Why They Shouldn’t Do It
Jailbreaking an iPhone refers to the process of removing iOS controls and run-time restrictions so that applications not authorized by Apple can be run on the iPhone. When you jailbreak your iPhone, you are essentially tearing down the considerable wall of security that iOS provides.
Nevertheless many people jailbreak their iPhones to be able to run games, install themes, load files, and do the many other things that iOS normally prohibits. It’s true that you can unlock hidden capabilities in your iPhone by jailbreaking it. But you do so at considerable risk.
Jailbreaking your iPhone opens up the possibility of malware getting installed on your device. For example, worms started showing up on iPhones back in 2009 that attacked only jailbroken iPhones.
Parents, you may find that your teenagers want to jailbreak their iPhones to experiment with games and other unauthorized apps that they hear their friends are trying. If you are paying for their iPhones and call plans, then you are calling the shots as far as I can see. You are the stewards of their online safety, so it is in your best interests, and theirs, to not allow them to jailbreak their iPhones.
When your kids grow up, get jobs, and pay for their own iPhones and calling plans, then it is their business whether they jailbreak or not. At that point, they are paying for the risks they are taking.
I work for Trend Micro and the opinions expressed here are my own.