Apple iOS 9.3.4 update is all about jailbreaking

Alex Kidman 5 August 2016


Apple has issued an update for iOS 9 devices that’s primarily aimed at thwarting those who want to jailbreak their iPhones.

This late in the development cycle of iOS 10, expected sometime in September, it seemed unlikely that Apple would do that much more patching to iOS 9. But that’s what it has done, releasing iOS 9.3.4 overnight for devices running Apple’s mobile operating system.

As you might expect from a dot point release, iOS 9.3.4 isn’t packed with loads of new features. Indeed, Apple’s notes for the release simply point to "an important security update" for the operating system. Digging a little deeper into the release notes, it specifically calls out that "A memory corruption issue was addressed through improved memory handling" to stop an issue where "An application may be able to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges". Which is likely to sound like baffling jargon to most folks.

What the iOS 9.3.4 update does stop is the Pangu jailbreak method, which allowed users to install code of their own, including features and updates not approved by Apple. Jailbreaking iOS devices has long been a contentious issue, with Apple keen to maintain control over the code that runs on iPhones and iPads, citing increased security risks, while a section of users irritated by the limits of that control have sought to increase what they could do on individual devices.

Quite how comfortable you are with those risks is a matter of personal preference; while many jailbreak enthusiasts point to the added flexibility of a jailbroken iOS device, it is a potential pathway for malware to creep onto devices as well.

How do I upgrade to iOS 9.3.4?

Your iOS device may prompt you for the upgrade, which can be done via iTunes or over the air. If it doesn’t and you’re keen, you can always invoke it by going to the Settings app, tapping "General" and then "Software Update". That will check with Apple’s servers for the latest update for your iOS device.

Should I upgrade to iOS 9.3.4?

That depends on your precise usage of your iOS device. If you have no use for or interest in jailbreaking devices then we’d say yes; it’s implementing a fix already present in ioS 10 beta code, and there’s always the possibility of later malicious code attacking that flaw.

If however you’re a happy jailbreaker, it’s not going to suit your needs, because it removes the memory loophole that allows the Pangu jailbreak to operate. Jailbreaking has long been a cat and mouse game between Apple and the jailbreak developers, and this is just the latest salvo in that long and ongoing battle.

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