Jailbreak Detection

Jailbreak detection is a security feature that identifies whether the restrictions by Apple on iOS devices have been bypassed.

What Is Jailbreak Detection?

Jailbreak detection is a security feature that identifies whether the restrictions by Apple on iOS devices have been bypassed. The purpose of jailbreak detection is to prevent users from using the app on a jailbroken device, which could potentially compromise the security of the app or the data it contains. Jailbreak detection is a useful security measure for mobile apps that handle sensitive data or perform critical functions.

Security Measures for iOS Devices

Apple has put a number of security measures in place to maintain the security of iOS devices. Some of the security mechanisms used by Apple include: 

  1. Code signing. Apple uses code signing to ensure that only trusted and verified code is executed on iOS devices. Each iOS app is required to be signed with a digital certificate that is issued by Apple. If a mobile app is not signed or the certificate is not valid, the mobile app will not be allowed to run.
  2. Sandboxing. Apple uses sandboxing to limit the access of mobile apps to an iOS device's resources and data. Each mobile app is run in a separate sandboxed environment, which prevents mobile apps from accessing data or files that they shouldn't have access to.
  3. Secure boot chain. Apple uses a secure boot chain to ensure that only trusted software is loaded on an iOS device. This means that during the boot process, each step is verified before proceeding, and any unauthorized or modified software is rejected.
  4. Rootless security. Apple's rootless security mechanism prevents even administrators (i.e., root users) from modifying certain system files or directories.
  5. Hardware-based security. Apple implements hardware-based security features in their devices, such as the Secure Enclave, which is a separate processor that stores sensitive information, such as biometric data, in a secure and encrypted manner.

What Is Jailbreaking?

Jailbreaking is a process by which users remove the restrictions imposed by Apple to maintain the security of iOS devices. Rooting is the process for doing the same thing on Android devices. 

Once a device is jailbroken, users gain root access to it, which means they can access and modify sensitive system files and settings that are not normally accessible to them. Here are some things that can be done with a jailbroken device:

  1. Customization. Jailbreaking allows users to customize the iOS device’s interface, including changing the theme, icons, and fonts.
  2. App installation. Users can install apps that are not available on the official App Store, including apps that may not be approved by Apple or apps that have been modified or hacked.
  3. System tweaks. Users can install tweaks that modify the behavior of the iOS operating system, such as changing the way notifications work or adding new features to the system.
  4. Unlocking. Jailbreaking can allow users to unlock their device, making it compatible with carriers other than the one it was originally locked to.
  5. Piracy. Although not recommended or legal, some users may use a jailbroken device to pirate apps or media.

However, bypassing Apple’s security measures creates risks. It can open the door to malware and other security threats, as well as cause performance issues or even render the iOS device unusable.

Security Concerns About Jailbroken Devices

Jailbreaking a device creates several security issues. Key security concerns associated with jailbroken devices are listed below. 

  1. Increased vulnerability to malware and viruses. Jailbreaking removes many of the security features and protections that are built into the device's operating system. This can make it easier for hackers and malicious actors to exploit vulnerabilities and install malware or viruses on the device.
  2. Theft of personal and sensitive information. Once a device is jailbroken, attackers can gain access to the file system and data that would normally be protected by the operating system. This can include personal information like passwords, banking information, and other sensitive data.
  3. Unsecured apps. Jailbreaking a device allows users to download and install apps from third-party sources that have not been vetted for security. Apps also have root access on jailbroken devices, which means that unvetted apps could gather data from every other app and capture user input and network data.
  4. Inability to receive security updates. Jailbroken devices may not receive security updates or patches from the operating system provider. This means that if a new security vulnerability is discovered, the device may be vulnerable to attack.

How Does Jailbreak Detection Work?

When implementing jailbreak detection in iOS apps, there are a few common methods on how to detect jailbreak on iPhone devices (or for that matter, on any iOS device). 

  1. Checking for the presence of known jailbreak files. Some jailbreak tools leave behind files or folders with specific names or locations. By checking for the existence of these files, an app can detect whether the device has been jailbroken.
  2. Checking for modifications to system files. Jailbreaking often involves modifying the device's system files to bypass Apple's security measures. An app can detect these modifications by checking the integrity of certain system files or comparing them to known values.
  3. Using third-party libraries or frameworks. There are various third-party libraries or frameworks available that can be used to perform a jailbreak check. These libraries often use a combination of different techniques for jailbreak detection.
  4. Runtime analysis. An app can also monitor the device's runtime environment and look for suspicious behavior or activity that could indicate a jailbreak. For example, it might check whether the device is running in a sandboxed environment or whether certain system calls have been intercepted.

Jailbreak detection should be part of Mobile RASP (Runtime Application Self-Protection) and data protection solutions. 

Jailbreak detection is not foolproof, and there are ways for users to bypass it even though it can be a complex and technical process that requires a good understanding of iOS system internals and programming. For example, users can install a jailbreak detection bypass tweak, modify the app's code (this requires some reverse engineering), or use a jailbreak detection bypass tool. 

That said, implementing jailbreak detection is an important piece of a multi-layered security strategy for iOS apps that handle sensitive data or perform critical functions. Doing so adds another protective layer against exploits by hackers. 

Blue Cedar Provides Jailbreak Detection


Blue Cedar Enforce

Blue Cedar Enforce, a component of Blue Cedar Mobile App Security, provides jailbreak detection. Being able to detect a jailbroken device and preventing a mobile app from executing on a jailbroken iPhone is one of many mobile app security features provided by Blue Cedar Mobile App Security, which also includes Blue Cedar Connect.


Blue Cedar Enhance

Blue Cedar also provides an easy way to incorporate mobile app security, including jailbreak detection, into a mobile app. That is via Blue Cedar Enhance, Blue Cedar’s no-code integration service that adds new functionality to mobile apps without requiring a single line of code to be written. Blue Cedar Enhance integrates mobile app security into iOS and Android mobile app binaries, regardless of the libraries and frameworks that underpin these app binaries. 


The Blue Cedar Platform

Blue Cedar Mobile App Security and Blue Cedar Enhance are delivered by the Blue Cedar Platform, a CI/CD friendly SaaS solution that also provides deployment services, such as app import and code signing, to streamline delivery of secured mobile apps.