Jailbroken iPhones threat to mobile networks – Apple

Apple has argued that jailbroken iPhones are a threat to mobile networks and could allow hackers to make free calls.

The claim forms part of Apple's attempt to block an exemption to the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that would allow iPhones to be altered or “jailbroken”.

Using a jailbroken phone, “a local or international hacker could potentially initiate commands (such as a denial of service attack) that could crash the tower software, rendering the tower entirely inoperable to process calls or transmit data,” the company argued in a submission to the US Copyright Office.

The malicious uses would be allowed by accessing the handset's baseband processor (BBP), Apple said. With access to the BBP, a hacker may be able to change or disguise their phones' Exclusive Chip Identification (ECID) number.

“[This] in turn can enable phone calls to be made anonymously (this would be desirable to drug dealers, for example) or charges for the calls to be avoided,” Apple said.

If two phones with the same ECID try to connect to a single tower, the system would act in unknown ways, including potentially booting both handsets off the network.

Hackers could also modify the BBP to allow handsets to override carrier rules limiting packet sizes or the amount of data being permitted, Apple said.

Hacking a handset also opens it up to malware attacks, Apple argued. And beyond security concerns, allowing iPhone jailbreaking could lead to crashes and instability, piracy of mobile apps, increased support costs and damage to Apple's brand.

The EFF requested the Copyright Office amend the DMCA to allow jailbreaking last year. “It's not the DMCA's job to force iPhone users to buy only Apple-approved phone applications. The DMCA is supposed to block copyright infringement, not competition.” EFF senior IP attorney Fred von Lohmann said at the time.