Simple and reliable, Apple iPhones are believed to be some of the most secure mobile devices available. Apple security comes down to one factor – very tight control of the operating system and hardware.

To better protect users, Apple iPhones and iPads can only install apps from the official App Store. Every app is checked by Apple’s security experts to verify it conforms to certain standards and does not contain malware. Only once these checks are completed and passed is an app made available for download.

This improved security comes at a cost however. To maintain control, Apple places limits on what apps can and cannot do. Sharing data between apps is still quite difficult, and developers can only interact with the phone’s hardware in specific, permitted ways.

Some developers have decided to go ahead and create apps that break the rules. And they have built their own unofficial app store called Cydia.

Accessing Cydia

Cydia is freely available – but first you will need to make some changes to your phone. This process is known as ‘jailbreaking’ and involves circumventing the controls Apple uses to prevent unauthorised software installation.

Jailbreaking is usually quite straightforward – you don’t need any expert knowledge to do it. Once complete, you can download and install apps from third party sources like Cydia.

But should you do jailbreak your iPhone?

Be very careful when jailbreaking your iPhone

There are some very useful, clever apps in Cydia. And because these apps break Apple’s rules, you won’t see anything similar in the official App Store.

But when you jailbreak your iPhone, you also disable many of the security safeguards that protect you. This makes it much easier to accidentally install malware, or for hackers to break into your phone and steal sensitive personal information.

Cydia itself also presents a risk. Without Apple’s strict checks and controls there is nothing to stop criminals infecting downloads with malware. There is virtually nothing to stop you accidentally infecting your own phone.

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Apple’s advice

Apple is very clear in their advice regarding jailbreaking. Unauthorised modifications to the iOS operating system that powers your iPhone violates Apple’s end-user software license agreement. Breaking this agreement invalidates your warranty and Apple may refuse to provide service for your device.

Jailbreaking places your personal data at risk. And if something goes wrong, you may not be able to use your iPhone at all. Is the promise of greater control really worth the risk?

In reality, very few people will ever want to jailbreak their phones – the apps available in the official App Store do virtually everything they could want already. For those who do want greater control – and the option to install unofficial apps – jailbreaking may be an option.

Jailbreakers need to be very aware of the risks involved. They will also need to pay even closer attention to the apps they install, and the warning signs that suggest something may be wrong – decreased battery life, increased cellular data usage, unusual pop-ups and unexpected downloads.

If you would like to know more, this article will tell you about the risks of jailbreaking.