After introducing an API that allowed developers to check on an iOS device to see if its operating system had been compromised (read: jailbroken) less than six months ago, Apple has now unexpectedly dropped the functionality from iOS 4.2.1.
The jailbreak detection API was part of the mobile device management (MDM) API which was introduced with iOS 4 in June this year, according to NetworkWorld. Now, device management vendors say Apple has dropped the API while also saying that there are alternatives to checking on whether an iOS device has been jailbroken.
So, it remains a mystery as to why Apple would no longer provide the ability to check for jailbroken software on their devices. Perhaps its a peace offering to the jailbreak community that has often been at odds with Apple, continually having to recode exploits to keep iOS devices jailbroken after updates.
One major player in the jailbreak community isn't buying that though. MuscleNerd tweets:
"Apple removed their "jailbreak detection API" in 4.2...we didn't even attempt to fool it (honestly!)"
MDM engineers do not seem to have much to add:
"We used it when it was available, but as an adjunct," says Joe Owen, vice president of engineering at Sybase, which offers the Afaria device management software. "I'm not sure what motivated their removing that....I've not had anyone [at enterprise customer sites] talk to me about this API being present or being removed."
Most likely, Apple discovered that while allowing developers access to iOS information for the purposes of detecting if a jailbroken iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad was being used on their network could be helpful, it might also lead to devastating circumventions from the hacking community.
Since MDM professionals have other methods of detection without the API, Apple probably decided it would be best to leave it to third-party engineers to detect jailbroken devices.