As security becomes a bigger concern for mobile manufacturers, the rewards for cracking that security are getting bigger and bigger. Android’s recent security breaches (see Stagefright) are costing the company revenue and increasing the probability of future attacks. While Android phones have been taking the brunt of the heat and negative press in recent months, Apple’s iOS is about to join the party.
While many young hackers and amateur techies are familiar with the term “jailbreaking”, hacking teams are taking this term to a whole new level. Jailbreaking is a term used to define Apple devices that have been relieved of their factory-set or instituted restrictions. In the past, jailbreaking an iPhone was benign, a hacker looking to see what they could do and what software they could exploit on a new OS. Now, however, jailbreaking has become something much more serious. In the early days of mobile tech, jailbreaking an Apple device was done to explore outside of system settings, change icons to something silly, and maybe update the way menus looked. Now, as our technology has become more ubiquitous, and with the tech we carry in our pockets harboring troves of personal and financial information, remotely jailbreaking a phone can have serious consequences. Installing malware and apps without the user’s knowledge or consent can lead to more problems and opportunities for black-hat hackers. With this in mind, many are willing to pay top dollar for the ability to combat (or use) this tech.
The highest bidder gains rights to this new jailbreaking tech, and the highest bidder may have some pretty powerful friends. Security start-up Zerodium is making good on its promise to reward the hacking team who successfully jailbreaks an iPhone running iOS 9+ with a sweet seven-figure payday. A hacking team successfully completed the task, allowing phones to be jailbroken after luring them to a specific website URL. Zerodium plans on sharing these plans with its customers, ranging from corporations looking to protect their tech, to government agencies who may or may not be looking to use this tech in surveillance efforts.
The implications behind jailbreaking newer iPhones is becoming more serious as hackers and security experts develop new ways to exploit software vulnerabilities for a multitude of reasons. Time will tell what new security measures will be put in place in order to combat this latest breach, but one thing is for sure: in a world where an error in code can cost millions, hackers are reaping the rewards.