Can we root an iPhone?
The information portal for safe cell phone use
Smartphones and tablets are essentially made up of three components: device (hardware), operating system (Android or iOS) and application software (apps). The mobile device and operating system are usually coordinated with one another. There is no possibility for users to change or change the operating system - apart from upgrades.
Apple's iOS operating system, which is installed on iPhones, has many restrictions. For example, apps can only be installed from Apple's official app store. If you want to install apps from other sources, you have to remove these and other barriers. This process is called jailbreak (English for prison break). The iOS operating system is changed on the device.
With Android, the intervention that enables further technical authorizations is called rooting. The term comes from the world of Linux operating systems, in which extensive powers as root rights (derived from the English "root" for root) are referred to. Those who have them can, for example, access system files and remove restrictions on Android.
What use are extended access rights?
With Android, upgrades to new operating system versions are adapted and delivered by the respective device manufacturer. However, the manufacturers are far from providing all of their devices with new upgrades. If you don't get one, you may be left with old security holes. With a rooted device, you can install a current operating system regardless of the manufacturer.
Also, an Android device in the standard setting can hardly be used practically without sending data and information to Google. Anyone who wants to use a device without this connection to Google and other companies cannot avoid root intervention.
Changes to the system are complex
Technically speaking, you can easily install a new or additional operating system on your computer, be it a PC or a Mac. All you need is the new operating system on a USB stick and physical access to the device. It's a bit more complicated with mobile devices.
Most mobile devices are protected against changes to the operating system. Depending on the device, this protection can usually be circumvented with more or less effort. A computer and a USB cable are required for rooting devices with Android or jailbreaking iOS devices. The additionally required software and instructions can be found on the Internet.
You should know that devices can break while rooting and jailbreaking, in the worst case so that they can no longer be repaired.
Disadvantages of root and jailbreak
The main problem with jailbreaking iOS is that it cancels security mechanisms. Anyone who loads apps from sources other than the app store - which is only possible after jailbreaking - does not necessarily notice if they accidentally install malware. The apps from its own app store are usually carefully checked by Apple and so far only very few cases of malware have been reported in the app store.
With Android, an important safety precaution is that each app works on its own and cannot access the processes of other apps. This principle is known as "sandboxing". Malicious programs for Android are now quite widespread - they also appear again and again in the Google Play Store. Sandboxing is intended to protect against such malware from spreading in the event of an infection and disrupting other apps in operation.
Example: rooted cell phones and banking apps
Sandboxing is the basis for security in mobile banking with the PushTAN procedure. Even if the mobile banking app is infected, it is assumed that the app that receives the TAN is protected due to the sandboxing. If you root your device, you forego this protection.
Many banking apps therefore check whether the device on which they were installed is rooted and then do not work. Other banks prohibit the use of rooted devices in their terms and conditions. Other apps also do not run on rooted devices for security reasons, for example the Netflix app.
Since 2017, app developers have been able to specify that their app will not be displayed in Google's Play Store on rooted devices. This allows developers to prevent their apps from being installed on such devices. Netflix uses this setting, for example.
Basically, users can freely decide whether or not to forego the built-in protection provided by the hardware or software manufacturer. There could be good reasons to root or jailbreak your device. But then you have to worry about many security aspects yourself.
The safety tips at mobilsicherheit.de are aimed at all consumers and do not require a high level of technical knowledge. That is why the tips and articles at mobilprüf.de refer to devices in the standard state.
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