iPhone jailbreakers begin cracking their knuckles over iOS 7

With new iPhones comes a new challenge: jailbreaking iOS 7

Apple's latest operating system iOS 7, due to be released Sept. 18, is already under the microscope of independent security researchers looking for a new jailbreak.

The team, which goes by the Twitter handle "@evad3rs," hunts for software vulnerabilities that allow users to customize their iPhones and install applications not vetted by Apple, which the company discourages.

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Apple's iPhone security has become tighter with every version of its mobile operating system. The jailbreak team often has to find a series of vulnerabilities for a working exploit that can grant unfettered access, which can be a difficult, painstaking process.

David Wang, who works with @evad3rs, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that "We are currently in a reconnaissance phase where we are identifying which exploits we have still work."

Apple has been releasing beta versions of the iOS 7 software since its World Wide Developers conference in June, but has released its Gold Master version of the software that will ship next week.

In the past, the jailbreak team has withheld using some vulnerabilities they've found in the hope that those flaws will become useful for future exploits. When a jailbreak is released, Apple typically moves quickly to release a patched version of iOS to eliminate the software flaws.

Apple released two phones on Tuesday, the iPhone 5S, its premium model with fingerprint authentication and an upgraded processor, and the 5C, a lower-end model with the same processor as the fifth-generation model.

The new A7 processor in the 5S is the first 64-bit processor to be used in a smartphone. The chip can process larger amounts of memory than 32-bit chips, although applications need to be written to use those capabilities.

Apple has modified the iOS kernel, libraries and drivers for the A7, which the company said means faster CPU processing and graphics performances for applications and games.

Another member of the @evad3rs team, who goes by "@pod2g" on Twitter noted that the 64-bit processor will "probably kill some exploits."

On Reddit, Wang wrote that the 64-bit processor itself "will make little or no difference in terms of security, vulnerabilities and exploitation. All the difficult parts about jailbreaking will remain as difficult but not more so than before."

Jailbreaking is legal in the U.S. due to an exemption under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which forbids circumventing protections in place to prevent modification of devices. The most popular source for unauthorized applications is Cydia.

iOS 7 will be a free update for the iPhone 4 and later versions, iPad 2 and newer models and the fifth-generation models of the iPad mini and iPod touch.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk.

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