It seems that these last few months have been hacker months. This time the victim is Apple – once again – with their latest iOS. Allegedly hackers were able to jailbreak the newest iOS version in less than 24 hours after it was released in beta mode.
Before discussing about this we have to say that iOS 5th version was announced at WWDC 2011(along iCloud) and has more then 1500 new APIs for developers and a total of 200 new features for its users. It was a necesary update and it seams that this time Apple made the right move and corrected some of the issues that users were experienced problems with. During the WWDC keynote, Apple featured 10 of the iOS features: Notification Center, Newsstand, Twitter, Safari, Reminders, Camera, Mail, PC Free, Game Center and iMessage.
The group that perpetrated the iOS 5 hack is known as iPhone Dev Team, and they made it known through their Twitter account that they had successfully jailbroken the brand new iOS 5. According to the group the OS is vulnerable to limera1n, which is the popular jailbreak technique that releases iOS 4, 4.1, and 4.1.2.
One of the hackers and active member of the iPhone Dev Team identified himself as MuscleNerd. He revealed that it is possible to install Cydia – which happens to be a third-party application installer – and this enables users to obtain applications that have been offered at the official Apple App Store. The phone that the group used was an iPod Touch which was being run on the new iOS 5 Beta version which had been given to developers less than 24 hours before.
The group did not hesitate to show screenshots as proof of their feat. One of the photos showed the iPod’s home screen where the Cydia icon is clearly visible. The second photo is also a screenshot but of the SSH iOS application, which happens to be managed by a third-party, and it evidences how the hacker has gained root level access to the device’s file system. The veracity of the photos was supported by new icons present such as the Newsstand icon (new feature for newspapers and magazines) and the Reminders icon (an application that comes with to do list).
The hacker used the tethered technique in order to jailbreak the device. This means that MuscleNerd had to have the iPod tethered – or connected – to his computer whenever he ran a reboot on the device in order maintain the jailbreak. The preferred technique by hackers is the untethered technique. They usually wait until an advanced option is available prior to upgrading to a new OS.
The fact that group was able to make use of the same patch to jailbreak the new iOS comes to no surprise. The previous version, iOS 4, happened to be jailbroken merely one day after it had been released to developers.
On the other hand, Apple maintains that they still plan to release the final version (the current one is beta) of iOS 5 this coming fall. For now, it will be offering a crack for all those developers that have successfully registered with them. This will allow them to verify if the applications are compatible with all the new features. There is still time for Apple to fix this bug, if possible.