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Research In Motion sounds off on managing jailbreak issues; says jailbreaking (rooting) voids warranty

JailBreaking is Bad....
By Kevin Michaluk on 21 Mar 2012 10:38 am EDT
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RIM published a post on their Inside BlackBerry for Business Blog this morning, regarding jailbreaking (aka "rooting"). BlackBerry PlayBook and future BlackBerry 10 owners will want to take note of this one, as it outlines RIM's official stance on jailbreaking:

To be clear, RIM recommends against installing any jailbreaking tool. Customers who use a jailbreaking tool on BlackBerry products void the manufacturer warranty and also increase the long-term risk of negatively impacting the stability and user experience of their BlackBerry products. 

To my knowledge, this is the first time we have seen RIM say that jailbreaking voids warranty. Jailbreaking has less of an allure these days since the OS 2.0 update has been released for the PlayBook, since Android Apps can now be easily sideloaded onto the PlayBook without having to first jailbreak the device. In the article, RIM further outlines  the process they take in addressing security vulnerabilities. Keep reading for all the details and be sure to join the discussion on this one in the forums.

Original Post 

How We Manage Jailbreak Issues

I'm Adrian Stone, and I am the Director of the BlackBerry Security Incident Response Team (BBSIRT) here at Research In Motion. The BBSIRT is responsible for responding to potential security issues and investigating vulnerability claims that may impact RIM's products. Security is a priority for our customers, and that's why I'll be contributing regularly to this blog. For my first post, I want to provide some insight into how we investigate and respond to jailbreak-related reports.

"Jailbreaking", or gaining root access to a device, has become common place in both the mobile and gaming industries. Essentially, gaining this deeper level of access to the core functions of the device allows the user to do things not originally intended by a manufacturer, such as install software outside of "official" channels. Unfortunately, gaining this level of root access may increase the security risk. For this reason, most device manufacturers, including RIM, strongly discourage jailbreaking while understanding that whole communities exist for just that purpose. At RIM, we take these issues very seriously. Let's walk through how we assess and respond to jailbreaking reports.

From a user perspective, there are two primary ways to jailbreak a device. First, there is the method where the user voluntarily makes changes that require: a) the device to be tethered to a computer; b) access to an authorized user account on the device; and c) may even require the user to make changes to the device's default settings by putting it into developer mode (which can also compromise security). This method cannot be used by remote attackers to compromise user data or the integrity of the device as it requires both possession of the device and valid user credentials for the device. The second method involves less interaction on the user's part. For example, a software bug may be exploited from a web page to gain root access to any mobile device and not require any interaction from the user except visiting the page.

On hearing reports of a jailbreak for a BlackBerry product, the BBSIRT will quickly triage the underlying issue and method used to perform the jailbreak. If it falls into the first category, where extensive user interaction is required, we will seek to address it in a future software update. If it falls into the second category (where a vulnerability is exposed with little to no user interaction), that is an indication of a more serious underlying issue and will most likely result in the release of a security update to address it as soon as possible. When this happens, my team publishes a security advisory or notice. These notifications typically offer an assessment of the issue and the required steps customers should take to resolve the vulnerability.

To be clear, RIM recommends against installing any jailbreaking tool. Customers who use a jailbreaking tool on BlackBerry products void the manufacturer warranty and also increase the long-term risk of negatively impacting the stability and user experience of their BlackBerry products. Use of a jailbreaking tool could also amplify the impact and severity of a future security issue, making your personal data more vulnerable to theft and more difficult to protect. If new jailbreaks for BlackBerry products are reported, rest assured that we will evaluate them and take appropriate action to help protect customers.

But the best actions you can take to protect your BlackBerry products are also pretty simple to follow: 1) keep your BlackBerry software up to date; 2) don't install jailbreaking tools; and 3) don't install software from unauthorized or unverified sources.

Reader comments

Research In Motion sounds off on managing jailbreak issues; says jailbreaking (rooting) voids warranty

39 Comments

chill RIM!! dingleberry boy no care about waranty for sure ~!
they will keep do more research on pb what will them can port into their pb with dingleberry..haha

wow - don't honestly know how to feel about this. On one hand I never condoned jailbreaks of iphones, but BB playbook was/is such garbage, that I was glad someone was trying. Certainly RIM has not been able to make much difference.

This is supposed to be news? Of course it voids the warranty. What did you expect? You can monkey around with the deepest levels of the OS and expect RIM to pick up the pieces when you mess something up? Where is the sport in that?

Correct, that is how it usually works. Do any modifications to your car by installing chips to get more horsepower or tune your engine and you will find yourself in the same situation.

I always thought Dingleberry was retarded but I have to give credit where credit is due:

If it weren't for Dingleberry, since the "de-brick" didn't work via DM, I wouldn't have been able to security wipe and downgrade to 1.08 prior to the official OS2 (not Warp ;)) drop.

But, let's leave the rooting nonsense to the Android and iOS devices.

Research in Motion should be sounding off and explaining why it supports censorship by blocking magazines listed as PG-13/Mature from being viewed on the Playbook.

Or put another way, why does RIM think that a "professional" tablet can be good enough for people responsible for billion dollar businesses yet those same people obviously need to be protected from PG-13 content. Oh the horrors!

All you have to do is adjust the parental controls or TURN THEM OFF. RIM doesn't have to do anything. If the BEST administrator made that change, realize you can't do squat to change them.

Ah, but the real question is.

If you root then de-brick prior to filing a warranty claim, can they tell that you had previously rooted?

RIM can say this, but this is not true for a big part of the warranty. It might void warranty in some cases. But f.e. if you case cracks because of manufacturing errors, they will have to repair this under warranty, since jailbreaking has absolutely not influence on the case. Ofcourse there are grey area's in this matter, but RIM will have to prove that the damage was done by the user (by jailbreaking in this case). So it is not voided by default.

Kevin,
The way I read this article, as long as I have a password on my Playbook and I don't visit weird/untrusted sites and download stuff from them, there is no known way for someone to break into my Playbook and steal my confidential information. Is this correct?

I have used developer mode to sideload android stuff but provided this .bar files are clean it is still secure in my view. Is this your assesment as well?

Thanks

How do you make it possible for Android apps to be sideloaded, with all the attendant security and bug issues, but you draw the line at rooting? Do it yourself the right way and none of this would be an issue, RIM. *facepalm*

Who knows, maybe their os is built in such a way that unless you are tampering at a lower level (like a jailbreak) the os can limit the damage a user could do.

That's it exactly. Normal user programs are put into separate "sandboxes" meaning each application has its own memory and storage space and cannot read or write to any shared memory or storage media without express permissions from the user.

To be honest i am surprised that they have in the past warrantied such activities, after all you wouldn't mess with the EMU on a car and then expect the maker to fix it when it breaks.

I hope that RIM keep to there promise to expand the Playbooks appeal and to keep updating the software, this way there would be little if not no need to root it.

Didn't Apple try to do the same thing with jailbreaking iOS and they were told that legally users are allowed to do it? How can RIM get away with doing it?

Don't get me wrong, I like my stock PB and have no desire to jailbreak it. I'm just confused as to how RIM can say it voids warranties but Apple can't.

You can jailbreak but you may not. That's what rim is saying. It just voids your warranty but it's not illegal. Apple was lobbying for it to be illegal.

I haven't gotten into rooting, nor do I want to - but it's not like losing the manufacturer's warranty is any major loss. RIM won't fix my PB's screen which had a dead pixel out of the box. Just straight up won't do it - has to be 'multiple dead pixels'. Insanity.

That's standard practise with all manufacturers. Have a look at the warranty of your TV, it will state the same thing.

Ok first of all ,what apple tried to do was make the act of jailbreaking their phones and such illegal , which would mean they could Sue the individual who jailbroke and the person making the jailbreak software. However if the Idevice had warrantable issues and was found to be jailbroken , then they can and will denie coverage. What RIM is saying is they follow suit , and that if you root or jailbreak your device and it causes damage to the unit , they can and will denie any warranty claims. Its not a matter of whether the unit has a physical defect or not. They do not want their security tampered with. That is why all Jailbreakers give Forewarning that you do the jailbreak at your OWN RISK.

RIM is covering their butts , leave it at that. If you jailbreak or root , thats your risk your taking . Deal with it

Blackberry shouldn't be jailbroken because of its security and some devices can run slower than before

Rim can say whatever they want but it won't make it true. I bought my device and now I own it. I am permitted to use it however I see fit. As long as that use doesn't constitute abuse, the warranty is unchanged.

To those bringing up vehicle mods, the fact is that if a modification can't be demonstrated to have caused a failure resulting in warranty claim, by law the manufacturer has to honour the warranty. If you tune your engine for more horsepower and the paint corrodes early, you get free paint. If you install a custom exhaust and the battery dies, you get a new battery for free. If you install HID lights and your brake calipers fail, you get new calipers. Auto manufacturers can't even deny you a brake claim due to engine upgrades. "You must be stopping more." Unless they can prove that aggressive stopping is caused by an engine upgrade (it isn't), they have to fix the brakes.

Rooting a phone or tablet voids the (non-existent) software warranty. Sure, if you end up with a bricked device I can see RIM denying your warranty claim, but if you brick your device while rooting, you abused your device. If you "e" key stops working, you're probably not, so RIM gets to honour their warranty.

This is more FUD, nothing more. There's a public perception that a device that can be rooted is inherently in danger of being exploited from the outside. Fact is that jailbreaking is done by owners to gain more control of the devices they own. Nobody does anything to you because you've rooted.

I can honestly say i disagree with some of what you say.

In this particular case you can not compare automotive warranty to Electronic warranties.

Yes you own the device , yes you paid for it. But if you change something in the software and because of that change cause the processor to calculate more equations than it was tested to normally do , and hence cause a failure , the warranty is void. Simple.

Rooting , or jailbreaking can and will allow people who want to be more daring than the average Joe to do things they should not. for example overclock , add software load to the memory and processor resulting in more heat which will damage the electronic components more. The statement from Rim is a Generalization about rooting/jailbreaking as a whole. We all know 90% of the time people who root or jailbreak , are adding software changes , but a small minority will push the root/jailbreak to do other things , and its those things that RIM will avoid.

So law or not , if you "break" the device and they can prove it was due to a software change like rooting and jailbreaking , they will void your warranty.

Like it or not ,that's the way it is.

To put in a automotive term you may understand. If you take the stock air intake and replace it with a cold air intake , and your engine dies , is the manufacturer going to heavily look at that modification with alot more scrutiny than if you hadn't , of course they will , they will have to figure out whether that mod changed the parameters that could have caused the engine to fail.

again like it or not , that's the way the cookie crumbles.

As long as the device is customizable enough without having to jailbreak then I, personally, see no need to do it. If you jailbreak, you do it at your own risk! It's that simple...

Who gives a shit about the warranty. The jailbreak will come and those of you who are too stupid to jailbreak it to get all the bonus apps and features don't deserve them anyways...lol

rooting is a wonderful thing both my android devices are rooted and i dont have any issues. nothing gets into my devices that I dont put on them... no bloatware, no apps that i will never use just taking up screen space.. keep in mind a Canadian with there rules. drink the kool aid dont customize YOUR device how YOU want it. have the same set up as everyone else with a pb. my pb is tucked away in my closet until something special happens for it

I rooted my playbook back in January so I could install 2.0. Ever since the moment I did that, my touchscreen was whacked out. It would work intermittently. I restored back to Official OS and still had the same problem.
I dont know it was coincidence or not, but my playbook was screwed after that rooting.
I sent the playbook back to RIM for repair after hours on the phone with tech support. Result: They shipped me a brand new playbook.
Maybe there is a reason why they void the warranty now... Just sayin.

I agree with what Adrian says. Jailbreaking is a risk. However, RIM must realize that alot of people bought the PB because of it's "rootability." I'm sure lots of people tried rooting within the first 48 hours of buying their PB.

This is standard procedure for any company to protect their software/ device and i agree with RIM for doing so. At the same time i support and congratulate all the jailbreakers. Its thanks to them that the OS gets improved in terms of security, modifications etc.