Jailbreaking any iPhone just got easier with this new hack

iPhone 11
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

A new version of the unc0ver jailbreak works on all recent iPhones, up to and including the iPhone 11 series running iOS 13.5. Installing it is not difficult and lets you run unauthorized apps and system modifications.

"Allowing you to change what you want and operate within your purview, unc0ver unlocks the true power of your iDevice," states a blurb on the unc0ver website.

In general, however, we don't recommend that iPhone users jailbreak their devices. Doing so removes a lot of the security protections Apple bakes into iOS. Thieves also sometimes find it easier to break into and wipe jailbroken iPhones, although we're not sure if that's the case with unc0ver. 

A different jailbreak called checkm8 disclosed in the fall of 2019 affects all iPhones from the iPhone 4S through the iPhone X and cannot be patched.

The unc0ver site says that this latest version of the jailbreak, unc0ver 5.0.1, leaves system security "intact." If so, that would be impressive, but we have no way to verify it at the moment. One person who apparently worked on uc0ver told Vice that unc0ver takes advantage of an iOS "zero-day" vulnerability that Apple is unaware of. 

The unc0ver website provides instructions on how to perform the jailbreak using macOS, Windows, iOS or Linux using several different methods, some of which require Apple developer accounts. 

Probably the easiest way is to use a desktop application called AltStore, which leverages Apple's own iOS device-management tools to give any user elevated privileges on iOS. 

The instructions for using AltStore provided on the unc0ver site may be a little confusing, but this video by 9to5Mac's Jeff Benjamin explains the procedure pretty well.

The unc0ver 5.0 jailbreak was apparently tested on every iPhone model from the iPhone 6s onward, including the new iPhone SE. The jailbreak apparently works on most of version of iOS from 12.4.1 through 13.5 and survives reboots, although we have not tried it ourselves. The jailbreak does not seem to run on iOS 12.3, 12.3.1, 12.4.2, 12.4.3, 12.4.4 and 12.4.5.

Earlier versions of unc0ver worked on a more limited set of iPhone models and versions of iOS.

As always with jailbreaks, Apple will try to patch the underlying flaw that makes the jailbreak possible as soon as possible. Users who wish to keep their iPhones jailbroken will want to hold off on system updates.

Paul Wagenseil

Paul Wagenseil is a senior editor at Tom's Guide focused on security and privacy. He has also been a dishwasher, fry cook, long-haul driver, code monkey and video editor. He's been rooting around in the information-security space for more than 15 years at FoxNews.com, SecurityNewsDaily, TechNewsDaily and Tom's Guide, has presented talks at the ShmooCon, DerbyCon and BSides Las Vegas hacker conferences, shown up in random TV news spots and even moderated a panel discussion at the CEDIA home-technology conference. You can follow his rants on Twitter at @snd_wagenseil.