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Apple/AT&T may not be preventing iOS 4 jailbreaks, but your enterprise could soon be

Several days after the release of iOS 4, and, ho hum, some hacker has already jailbroken it. But wait!

Several days after the release of iOS 4, and, ho hum, some hacker has already jailbroken it. But wait! The new twist is that there are reports, based on an anonymous-but-detailed-tip from an alleged Apple employee, that Apple and AT&T plan to send mandatory over-the-air updates every 1-2 weeks that will disable iPhones running jailbroken copies of iOS 4.

As noted, plenty of commentators are calling BS on the reports. I guess we won't have to wait too long to find out if they are true.

What is definitely true, however, is that in the next few months, enterprises will be able to detect and quash iPhones running non-legit copies of iOS 4.

These are features coming in Afaria's own device client as well as the Afaria 6.6 FeaturePack 1 for iOS 4 announced earlier this week. iPhones running a jailbroken version of iOS 3.1 and later will be detected by the Afaria client, says Afaria's senior product manager, Mark Jordan, and can be automatically blocked from access the corporate Exchange server.

IT administrators can also use Afaria's other management capabilities on iPhones they've detected as running jailbroken iOS 3.1 and later, from blocking access to corporate e-mail on the iPhone, to, if desired, wiping the device completely.

From the user point-of-view, these steps may seem extravagant, especially if you're one of the users who jailbreaks in order to run on your older iPhone 3G, to run apps banned by Apple's App Store, to switch to an alternative carrier, to skip AT&T's $20/month tethering surcharge for wireless access for your laptop, etc.

But from the enterprise IT manager's point-of-view, there are good reasons why a jailbroken iPhone that has corporate access is a potential threat. Jailbreaking can inadvertantly remove the operating systems' security settings, creating holes that reportedly leave the iPhone vulnerable to spam, secret recording of calls, or blackmailing hackers.

According to Jordan, the ability to detect and deal with jailbroken iPhones "is a concern for every enterprise."

If you use your iPhone at work and have the monthly bill paid by your employer, you probably signed a contract that already gives them the right to deal with jailbroken phones as they see fit. And with the technology coming around the corner - the beta is coming in July, with a final release in the fall - you can probably expect them to use it. So be warned.

Do you use a jailbroken iPhone for work? Will you continue?