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Hiring a new sheriff: Apple clamping down on jailbreaking to soothe corporate angst?

With the latest jailbreaking code, blacksn0w, now available for Geohot's blackra1n utility, iPhone owners who want to free their favorite smartphone from the constraints of the App Store and the AT&T network may do so. But a recent report by PCWorld / Network World indicates that Apple is hiring a new "sheriff" to lock up the iPhone platform for good. Is this true? Maybe not.

According to the post by Network World blogger John Cox, an Apple corporate website is showing a job posting for an iPhone platform security manager. The manager would lead a team aimed at creating methods for secure booting and installation of the iPhone OS, strengthening the platform's cryptographic services, partitioning and hardening internal security domains, and providing risk analysis of security threats.

The post goes on to breathlessly state that this job posting (which is noted as filling an existing position, not creating a new one) is indicative of Apple's concern that enterprise users might jailbreak and unlock their iPhones. The jailbroken phones would let enterprise users load apps that could "threaten corporate data or back-end Exchange servers," and "unlocking the phone... makes it hard to track, monitor and optimize wireless costs and could open the enterprise to legal problems."

Why is it so important for Apple to crack down on jailbreaking and unlocking? Well, the post says that many enterprises are adopting the iPhone "despite the fact that Apple provides virtually no security or management infrastructure..." That last statement is a bit ridiculous, considering that Apple even provides a series of white papers on exactly how to implement secure, managed iPhone deployments in enterprises.

Perhaps the author has been out the enterprise world for a while, since alterations like jailbreaking and unlocking are forbidden by policy in almost all big businesses that provide their employees with phones. As Mike Rose put it succinctly, "What enterprise user is jailbreaking their phone to use T-Mobile when that means they won't get reimbursed for their cell costs? What enterprise user wants to risk getting cut off from Exchange access?" And what enterprise employee is going to risk his or her good graces with the corporate security team for the sake of being able to run SplatCam or Cycorder on the iPhone?

The post tries to tie the rather innocuous task of filling an open job posting to an attempt by Apple to try to shut off the jailbreak world -- which, if it is doing, isn't necessarily about covering corporate requirements. As long as there are people who want to jailbreak their phones or unlock and move them to a different GSM carrier, hackers will find a way to do it. To us, it appears that Apple is just trying to maintain and improve security for the iPhone platform, something that will benefit all iPhone owners.

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