Are there examples of malware that affects jailbroken iOS devices that doesn't require installation of shady packages (e.g. something that can compromise a device just by opening a PDF or visiting a site)?

  • It doesn't match your criteria, but my most memorable vulnerability involves installing OpenSSH / SSHd and doing nothing else. Many people use OpenSSH very legitimately for on-device file management. Legitimately meaning the package is legitimate (and has long since been patched regarding this vulnerability). Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 6:21
  • Oddly it was a PDF vulnerability that allowed a jailbreak in iOS 4.3.x. Then, a jailbroken iOS device that was patched prevent further PDF exploits.
    – osx86x
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 10:30
  • Do you think you could accept an answer? It's been a few months since you asked. Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 18:05
  • If there's a problem you're trying to solve - feel free to edit those details in to help the most people put answers into context
    – bmike
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 15:28
  • Do you consider this question to be unanswered? If so, could you explain how I could make my contribution better? Commented Oct 18, 2013 at 19:24

3 Answers 3


I hate to say it, but in all my years of jailbreaking I have yet to see any type of malware have any real impact on the iOS community. Sure there was the infamous SSH vulnerability, but that was patched rather quick. That's the beauty of jailbreaking; we don't have to wait for Apple to release a fix. Most people fear that jailbreaking is insecure and puts your device at risk. That's far from the truth. My favorite example is the jailbreakme.com PDF exploit for iOS 4.3.3. At the same time they released the exploit, they pushed a patch to Cydia. As soon as you jailbroke, you were advised to install the patch, so that your device could not be further compromised. It took Apple a lot longer to implement and roll out their fix. In that situation, it was better to jailbreak than to not, because unless you had the patch, someone with bad intentions could have abused the exploit and done anything they wished with your device. Sure, you can be careless and install some malicious software, but most of the time it's the user's fault, because you always should be careful with what you do in a limited-regulation environment. As a final answer to your question, there were a few PDF exploits that were triggered merely be visiting a website (jailbreakme.com), but those vulnerabilities were never used for evil.

Edit: Another malware example has popped up, but it's not specific to jailbroken devices; it can remotely jailbreak any device without user interaction. This is the first time we've seen a remote jailbreak being used in the wild for malicious use. Apple has already patched it - they patched it quick. But the jailbreak community took a few months to patch it.

  • This journalist doesn't seem to agree: "Don’t Jailbreak Your iPhone if You Want to Stop Government Spyware" intego.com/mac-security-blog/…
    – franck
    Commented May 1, 2016 at 14:03
  • The malware the author wrote about requires you to install shady packages which the question specifically asks to ignore. Commented May 1, 2016 at 23:54
  • All of that malware requires you to install shady packages which the question specifically asks to ignore. None of them mention injection vectors that don't specifically require manual installation. Also, both of the "unnamed" ones are both the same malware, and it has a name - "Unflod." Commented May 2, 2016 at 0:02

If you leave your device unattended for just a couple of minutes a trojan horse can be quickly installed. It takes roughly 1-2 minutes to install it on a jailbroken device.

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    Good thing I lock my device compulsively. In all seriousness though, unrestricted physical access is where most security ends, jailbreak or no.
    – Julio R.
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 20:20
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    @HerrKaleun Prove it. Show me anything that proves it. Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 0:26
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    In all my couple years of jailbreaking I have never seen a trojan. Permit me to say: "pics, or it didn't happen". Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 2:48
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    That's a legitimate application with legitimate uses. Parents could install it to their child's iPhone to make sure they're safe. You could use a lot of real applications for ill. That's not malware or a trojan. That's spyware at the least, and who leaves their phone unattended anyways? That's like saying someone could steal your car if you left your keys laying around. Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 15:23
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    @HerrKaleun You could be with your friends and they could type sudo rm -R into your terminal. There's a difference between an intentionally installed package and some remotely installed malware. You can't get this spyware installed by just going to a website. The PDF exploit I referred to needed no user consent. User consent is the key. Something someone does on the device when they physically have access to it is different than getting sent/clicking a link that gives you a virus without you knowing it. Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 21:43

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