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There's a new jailbreak for millions of iPhones, and Apple can't patch it

The checkm8 exploit uses a vulnerability in iOS devices with Apple A5 to A11 chips, according to ZDNet.

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The jailbreak will reportedly work on the iPhone 4S up to the iPhone X.

James Martin/CNET

A new jailbreak released by a security researcher Friday reportedly affects all iOS devices with Apple's A5 to A11 chips. That spans iOS devices from the iPhone 4S, released in 2011, to the iPhone X, released in 2017. 

The jailbreak uses a new exploit called checkm8, according to CNET sister site ZDNet, and takes advantage of a bootrom vulnerability to give owners full control over their iPhones. The researcher who discovered the exploit goes by the handle axi0mX and described the jailbreak as permanent and unpatchable. 

Jailbreaking an iPhone lets people customize their iOS devices and run unsupported apps. Apple says these hacks, or "unauthorized modifications to iOS," can lead to security vulnerabilities and things like device crashes and data loss. Most jailbreaks use vulnerabilities in Apple iOS software, according to ZDNet, but a bootrom exploit targets a security flaw in code that runs on iOS devices during boot up. Fixing this type of exploit would require physical modifications to an iPhone's chips, according to ZDNet.

The jailbreak reportedly doesn't work on Apple's latest A12 and A13 chips, meaning the iPhone XS and iPhone 11 lineups aren't impacted. Axi0mX also told ZDNet that there are still kinks to be ironed out on some older devices. CNET wasn't able to independently verify the jailbreak.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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Correction, Sept. 28: This story misstated the year the iPhone 4S was released. It came out in 2011. 

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