Lysa Myers takes a look at how jailbreakers are helping to make devices more secure.
End users are spending an increasing amount of time on mobile devices, which naturally brings up a number of security concerns. Like on desktops, one of these concerns is the risk of running malware and exploits. But ironically, some of the most promising developments for protecting these devices come from the tension between jailbreakers and OS developers.
Android is a more open mobile OS that allows users malware problem on Android, even the vetting that is done isn’t enough. This potential for profit drain has brought about technology changes that have made it harder to write exploits and mobile malware.
Google relies on third parties’ app markets to vet code and the company has provided an app scanner for Android to determine if files are malicious. It has also prevented rooted devices from accessing popular and developers a lot of choices for customisation. But it’s not 100 per cent open, and many phone carriers lock devices further. iOS is a walled garden, with Apple acting as the guardian of what a user can do to their device. Many users dislike these restrictions, and some groups work to find exploits that allow people to ‘root’ or ‘jailbreak’ their machines to bypass them.
The ability to install homebrewed apps costs networks and software vendors money, making them understandably opposed to jailbreaking. There are also security issues with running poorly vetted code. Judging by the rapidly growing services and functionality. Apple is already more stringent about approving apps, but it has also locked down its OS architecture to make running exploits more difficult.
These changes make devices less susceptible to running exploits, which in turn prevents jailbreaking but also helps prevent malware as a side effect. Regulated systems not only protect the user, they are also in place to protect resellers and vendors as well. When code becomes more trustworthy and transparent, devices become less susceptible to the outside intruders. The channel is right to be apprehensive about jailbreaking, especially if the support falls to them, but in the end, this tension is actually helping to make mobile OSs more secure.
Lysa Myers is a virus hunter for Intego, a Mac security software company that has developed award-winning antivirus and network protection solutions for the Mac platform since 1997.
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