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Hackers develop jailbreak for Apple's iOS 9.3.3

But there are constraints that might make it challenging for some people to enable the jailbreak.


You can now jailbreak your iOS 9.3.3. device via a tool from the Pangu Team.

Pangu/Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Launched a week ago, Apple's iOS 9.3.3 can already be jailbroken, according to a new report.

Known as PPHelper, the jailbreak tool was developed and revealed by Chinese hacking group Pangu Team, blog site Redmond Pie said Sunday. The latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 9.3.3, added several security improvements but no significant new features.

Jailbreaking plays like a game of chess between hackers and Apple. Hackers continually attempt to outdo Apple by trying to jailbreak the latest version of iOS, a process that lets people customize their iOS devices and run unsupported apps. In the next iOS version, Apple then tries to shore up the vulnerability that allowed the jailbreak to work.

Users do take a risk when they jailbreak their devices as the practice is not sanctioned by Apple and can create security risks.

Sometimes jailbreaking is a relatively simple procedure that works on all or most iOS devices. Other times, it's more difficult and is saddled with certain limitations. Pangu's PPHelper tool falls in the latter category. The tool currently supports only Windows computers and is compatible only with 64-bit iOS devices. So far, only a Chinese version of the tool is available with instructions in Chinese, though an English edition is expected to pop up soon, Redmond Pie noted.

Jailbreaks are typically tethered or untethered. Tethered means you need to re-enable the jailbreak via your computer each time you boot up your mobile device. Untethered means the jailbreak doesn't require your computer to re-enable it. PPHelper lies somewhere in the middle, requiring a semi-untethered jailbreak. This means you don't need to hook up your device to your PC, but you do need to re-enable the jailbreak app from your mobile device each time you fire it up.

Apple's iOS 9 is installed on 86 percent of all iOS devices, according to Apple's App Store distribution page. The next major release, iOS 10, is due out in September.

Responding to CNET's request for comment, an Apple spokewoman pointed to a support page that describes the issues caused by jailbreaking.

Update, 1:20 p.m. PT: Adds response from Apple.