It’s an exciting time for the iOS jailbreak. While there has recently been a lull in the jailbreaking community due to a combination of software that’s harder to crack combined with less demand for cracks overall, it seems like the community is still alive and thriving. This past week has been a major step forward towards an updated iOS 10.3.3 jailbreak, and a developer known as Siguza has recently started a promising project called v0rtex.
Siguza, who considers himself a “hobbyist hacker,” recently confirmed that he’s currently working on an exploit for iOS devices. With the recent release of a “semi-jailbreak” tool called Houdini for devices running iOS 10.3.2 or below, the launch of v0rtex as a method of root access on any Apple A7-A9 processor running up to 10.3.3 adds another significant leap of progress in the iOS jailbreak journey.
The jailbreaking community is largely collaborative, as hackers work towards making phones more open and accessible. The fact that these jailbreaks are taking an increasingly long time to go public, however, seems to suggest that the task is getting harder and harder. V0rtex is an important discovery, but it’s only the first step towards a fully unlocked phone.
It’s important to note that this crack doesn’t represent a jailbreak tool in and of itself, or even that an iOS 10.3.3 jailbreak will follow. It’s simply a confirmation that’s it’s possible to obtain root access and achieve greater control over the phone. However, the fact that another highly capable member of the jailbreaking community is working on exploits seems to suggest that a full jailbreak shouldn’t be too far off. As mentioned above, the current exploit allows Siguza to achieve root access, but it doesn’t allow him to run code at a kernel privilege level — an important aspect needed to achieve full control of the device.
iOS Jailbreak Significance
In the comments in the v0rtex code, accessible by accessing the project repository on GitHub, there’s an interesting find: it seems that even the developer himself is unsure what this discovery will lead to. Siguza’s work on v0rtex is significant, but as a “hobbyist hacker,” a full iOS 10.3.3 jailbreak may be in the hands of a more experienced developer. Siguza also leaves comments that suggest he will leave attacks on iOS 11 to Ian Beer of the Google Project Zero team. Beer recently announced a tfp0 exploit for iOS 11.1.2 that allows the highest level of kernel access, which means a jailbreak of that release is coming sooner rather than later.
Siguza has listed v0rtex as “Very much TODO,” but we still have no idea what will come of this. As far as the hack goes, it’s currently unclear whether this is going to be the breakthrough we need for an iOS 10.3.3 jailbreak, or if it’s simply a dead-end hack. However, obtaining root access is one of the first steps towards releasing a fully-fledged jailbreak.
There’s no doubt that the demand for iOS jailbreaks is smaller than it used to be. As Apple has beefed up security and added more and more features that were previously lacking, adoption is much lower and large repositories of apps are shutting down. However, in recent weeks there’s been a second wind of sorts, with multiple projects in the works. With Ian Beer about to release an important 11.1 exploit, and tihmstar demonstrating a jailbreak for iOS 9 devices, the future of the community is looking bright rather than bleak.
As long as phones exist that don’t let consumers have full control over their devices, there will always be some sort of demand for increased access. With a community of techies that love to tinker with devices, concentrated efforts to break through a phone’s security will constantly push iOS devices towards a more open and free operating system.
If there’s one thing that’s clear, it’s that the iOS jailbreak movement is once again gaining momentum. With so many recent steps forward, it’s only natural to believe that an iOS 10.3.3 jailbreak, as well as jailbreaks for more recent operating systems, are well within reach. V0rtex is an excellent start, but it’s up to the community to push things forward.