Some Mobile Hacking Definitions That You May Have Gotten Confused Before
With all of the news and updates coming from around the web every day, many people are continuously asking questions about when certain bits of software are going to come their way. But do they really understand what they are waiting for? My guess is that many of you are a bit confused when it comes to hacking terms.
Hopefully, after reading this, you’ll become more educated and perhaps will even look a little bit smarter when talking about this stuff online. In many situations, people will still be able to help you when you say the wrong term, or describe what you want incorrectly. There are going to be instances, however, where you’ll need to say the right thing in order for us to understand. You can refer back to this page at any time when you forget something.
There aren’t many terms to go over either, because when it comes to the end-user experience, there are a very limited number of things you need to know anymore. The developer behind popular software applications such as Cydia, Redsn0w, and Sn0wbreeze understand and regularly use much more complicated language when speaking about their tasks and progress to each other. We don’t care to confuse you with all of that. Instead, the simple “need to know” stuff is the most important, and that’s what we’re here to clear up.
This little list should help you understand the most used terms around the web when discussing jailbreaking/rooting devices. It isn’t meant to give you a crash course on hacking, or to even tell you everything their is to know about the wonderful world of jailbreaking. It should, however, make you feel much more comfortable when engaging in conversation about these topics with other people. Remember, you should always ask questions if you don’t know something, no matter how simple it is. A question not asked, is knowledge you can’t use.
So, without further delay, let the learning begin! :D
Some things you may have been confused about before:
The term “jailbreak” is often mistakenly confused with the term “unlock” when it comes to iPhone hacking. A jailbreak is the act of hacking a device to remove the restrictions that have been set in place by the manufacturer. Jailbreaking is often an exclusive term to hacking the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and AppleTV. Many refer to the hack of Playstation 3 as being a “jailbreak” as well. Hacking Android devices is absolutely no different (in terms of the purpose) than hacking iOS devices, except that the term “Rooting” has been given to it instead. It allows “unapproved” processes and applications to be installed and ran on the devices.
For an incomplete rundown on jailbreaking, view our little yet-to-be-completed page on What jailbreaking is by CLICKING HERE
Unlocking phones is often confused with “jailbreak,” because the terms are often thrown around carelessly together, sometimes in the same sentences. I’ve seen many people even say “When can we jailbreak/unlock the iPhone?” – There’s nothing wrong with asking that (aside from it getting annoying), but the confusion could set in pretty quick if you don’t know what either is.
Unlocking has nothing to do with jailbreaking at all. While the purpose of jailbreaks/roots is to free the phones from manufacturer restrictions within the device, unlocking is all about releasing the device itself from the restrictions of a mobile provider! An unlocked device can be used on any carrier you want, within technology limitations (GSM / CDMA). Unlocking phones normally depends on various conditions which are specific to each device. If you are interested in using your phone with a different carrier, you might need an unlock to do so.
To those new to the jailbreak community, first off: Welcome! Secondly, you’ve probably heard this “tethered” term thrown around a little bit. If you’re lost and confused about this, here’s a simplified rundown on what we’re talking about.
Jailbreaking today requires a couple of things to happen. The bootloader (hardware) needs to be expoited/hacked in order to allow custom code onto the device, and then the software itself needs to be exploited to allow those processes to happen every time you boot up the device. This only needs to happen when you boot your phone, so once you get it running, everything stays the way you want it. This is the difference between a tethered jailbreak and an untethered one.
“Tethered” means “attached to something” (my definition may vary from a dictionary). When you have a “tethered” jailbreak, it means that your hardware (the physical parts of the phone that you can touch and use your other senses to know it exists) has been hacked. The processes that are needed to be jailbroken are able to run on the phone, and are ready to go. HOWEVER, like I said above, jailbreaking requires both hardware AND software sections to be a truly awesome hack for you. A “tethered” jailbreak is missing that software element, likely because Apple has updated the software and covered up little holes in their latest versions. Tethered jailbreaks will always be possible once a jailbreak is released for a particular device (i.e. iPhone 4) because Apple cannot change the hardware in your phones. They can, however, change the software, and they frequently update the iOS devices to cover jailbreak processes.
It’s called “Tethered” because the phone is now dependent on a computer to boot up when powered down. Whether you shut it off, or it ran out of battery in the middle of the day, you can’t boot a phone that has a tethered jailbreak without running software on your computer with the device attached to it. In this case, since your phone doesn’t possess the software part of what it needs to jailbreak, the computer must supply it to the phone in order to boot. This can cause some worry for people, and I caution you before doing it.
Tethered jailbreaks, in my opinion, can be dangerous to you. If you are ever in a situation where you need your phone, such as in the case of an emergency, and you aren’t able to do anything with it, it can cause problems. Normally, you’d be able to start your phone back up when your battery dies by just plugging it into a charger. That wouldn’t matter with a tethered jailbreak, because the phone will require a computer to assist it in booting up. I will not often write tutorials on or even recommend a tethered jailbreak because of this fact. I’d rather your device not function the way that’s perfect for you than to not function at all when you need it most.
If you have an “untethered jailbreak”, it means your device has both hardware and software exploits running at the bootup stage, and you do not need a computer to help you start your phone up. In this situation, you have a true jailbreak, and are able to use your phone normally as if it was right from Apple (except now, it can do MUCH more).
These are tools used for jailbreaking and in some cases, activating (hacktivating) too. The software is developed by dedicated and trustworthy hackers in the iPhone developer community, and should be the only tools you trust unless told otherwise. Ultrasn0w is the “unlocking” tool that was developed to perform unlocks on GSM-based iPhones.
These two terms relate to software versions in the modem, or network part of your phone, and the software that’s actually running to perform the tasks you’d expect from the device. The term “Baseband” has to do with your modem firmware (it is your modem firmware). This is NOT the software you get from Apple on software updates, and your baseband has nothing to do with a jailbreak. Instead, your baseband is important when trying to unlock.
The downside to the baseband of an iPhone, is that it cannot be downgraded. Once you update the baseband on your iPhone, you can never go back to a previous version. This makes all the difference when talking about unlocking an iPhone, because the software unlocking tool “Ultrasn0w” and other tools such as GeveySIM are only compatible with certain basebands. If you update past the abilities of these tools, you’ll be without the ability to unlock the device, and will need to wait until developers of these products are able to update their tools to be compatible. Because of this, many people try very hard to preserve their basebands when updating their firmware (firmware, contrary to what you may have thought, can be handled and updated independently from the baseband.
“Firmware” is actually what you’d normally just be calling the “software version” of your iOS device (or any other phone for that matter). The firmware is that operating system that you love so much, whether it be iOS 5.0.1 or Android 2.3.7. It has nothing to do with unlocking the device, and although it’s not always easy, can be updated independently from the baseband in most situations.
I hope this has provided a bit more understanding for you. If you have any questions, or feel I missed something that you’d like me to include, please leave me a comment on our Facebook Page and I’ll see what I can do to help you feel more comfortable with using these complicated terms.