The State of the Apple TV 3 Jailbreak as of the End of 2012

It wasn’t our plan to make any public statements about the status of the imminent Apple TV 3 jailbreak however due to the abundance of scams claiming false jailbreaks being spread across the internet, we’ve basically been forced to talk about it in attempts to return legitimacy to the Apple TV jailbreaking community. Most of you probably won’t be too pleased with what we’re going to say, but it’s the truth and that’s that. Continue reading this article so that we can finally put your concerns to rest, and so that you won’t risk getting ripped off by some false jailbreak claims. Continue reading and you’ll be privy to some much anticipated information on the status of the Apple TV 3 Jailbreaking efforts.

Before anyone can begin working on an Apple TV 3 jailbreak, at least on 5.x, an additional exploit is needed to utilize the remaining absinthe exploits.  Specifically an injection vector, an injection vector is the exploit that gets on onto the targeted device with root access. The service exploited as the injection vector, mobilebackup2, used on the other iDevices does in absinthe does not exist on the AppleTV 2 or 3. In case you’re not familiar with the terminology, an exploit is basically a security vulnerability that can be applied towards the overall jailbreak, several exploits are needed to achieve a jailbreak. There are a few different issues that are preventing the AppleTV 3 from being jailbroken. The main problem, is one that has been outlined several times before by both MuscleNerd and nitoTV, the attack surface is much smaller on the AppleTV. There are several processes running behind the scenes on any computing device, lately, these are the services that have been exploited, there are less services/processes running on the AppleTV, so there is a smaller “surface” to “attack”. The next major problem, number of people capable of finding these exploits, that would ever have interest in pursuing it, is very small. It’s pretty much the same people who find exploits for the iPhone and iPad that work on the Apple TV jailbreak, generally with much less vigour than its other iOS counterparts.

Jailbreaking of the Apple TV is much less popular statistically than other Apple devices, partly because the only mainstream, free purpose of an Apple TV 3 jailbreak would be to use XBMC. Meanwhile, other portable Apple devices get access to a wide variety of applications through a third party App Store called Cydia through jailbreaking. Functionally, jailbreaking of other devices gives you more abilities, whereas the purpose of an Apple TV Jailbreak could only be losely linked to piracy, something that jailbreakers prefer to keep their distance from. At the end of the day, jailbreakers get more credit and encouragement from the jailbreaking of the iPhone and iPad, so their generally more inclined to work on that first and foremost.

The fact that the Apple TV 3 doesn’t feature a web browser or any real user ability to do anything using the device outside of Apple’s intended realm of use makes it much more difficult to find a actionable exploit for it. You can use other devices to install third party applications through the App Store, browse the web, sync with iTunes, among many other features, whereas the Apple TV natively can pretty much only access iTunes and YouTube through the on screen system. The lack of user interface functionality on the Apple TV’s native firmware puts major limitations and pretty much blocks the potential for the commonly used “userland” exploits from other iDevices.

As of right now, no one is really even working on an Apple TV 3 exploit. The people that find these kind of exploits are highly skilled individuals, probably with a particular mixed background of Apple application development, IT security and hardware design. It is extremely rare to come across someone with the background, yet alone skills, needed to even commence work on any potential Apple TV jailbreak. People like pod2g, planetbeing, and posixninja are most likely preoccupied with their actual lives, or finding exploits for more popular devices, such as the iPhone or iPad, any of which on iOS 6 can’t even currently be jailbroken, aside from the developer “failbreaks”, with several devices including the new iPad Mini and iPad 4 yet to have ever been jailbroken, again except for with “failbreaks.” Said “failbreaks”, while they “work” on other devices to get an initial, but essentially useless, jailbreak don’t apply to the AppleTV’s either.

Just because the Apple TV 3 isn’t the primary target for jailbreakers, doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t ever come. It just means that it will take a lot longer, meaning that chances are when the eventual Apple TV 3 Jailbreak does come, it’ll be by fluke, although a lot of exploits are found by accident or “fuzzing”, something found on another Apple device which proves to also be cross exploitable on the Apple TV 3 as well. Once an exploit is found and released, it will probably be Kevin Bradley, the engineer behind nitoTV and considered by many to be the patriarch of the Apple TV jailbreaking community, who will be the one to write a jailbreak application for the Apple TV 3 with said exploit, he won’t be the one to find the exploit or vulnerability, he does more of the front end work, and integration with AppleTV backend/UI after those capable do the most important and difficult work.

Onto the time expectation you’ve all been waiting to hear about. There is no way that we can actually estimate or forecast a release for the third generation Apple TV 3 set top box. Since there is no one currently dedicated to working on a solution, it will likely be found by coincidence through community efforts to exploit other iDevices. This means that it will likely be quite some time before any Apple TV 3 Jailbreak is publicly released. This past Summer we had said that there would probably be an Apple TV 3 Jailbreak by Christmas, but now it’s almost Christmas and nothing has yet to be released, we won’t make the same mistake now, it could even take more than a year before something will be available.

Now, the fun part, the witch hunt! You should beware of anyone trying to sell any so called Apple TV 3 Jailbreak software. If you didn’t hear about it through JailbreakAppleTV.com, FireCore, or nitoTV on Twitter, it means that it is fake, so buyer beware! We’ve managed to identify a scammer by the name of John Colston from Denver, Colorado who has been setting up scam web sites intended to lure newbies into fake iOS jailbreaks for years, and it seems that he’s now moved onto fleecing the Apple TV jailbreaking community. Any sites you see such as “AppleTV3Jailbreak dot com” and “DailyGossip dot org” are fake and scams that should be avoided at all cost. There have been many reports of individuals duped by him and other scammers across the web.

What can you do to help contribute to a potential Apple TV 3 Jailbreak? Probably nothing, other than sit back and hold tight. We’re just as eager for an Apple TV 3 Jailbreak to be released as you are, but squawking about it won’t do any good. Many people have turned to harassing members of the jailbreaking community on Twitter, that won’t work either. Just stay positive and wait. You can always look on Amazon to purchase a second generation Apple TV 2 if you’re in that much of a hurry, there are at least a few different people still selling them for a premium. If you’re simply looking for a device to use with XBMC, our friends at XBMC for Android have put together a list of compatible hardware.

In the meantime, you should probably re-jailbreak your Apple TV 2 devices with Seas0nPass sometime in the very near future, before Apple closes the signing window for the current jailbreakable firmware. Once you’ve done that, check out our very own nito Installer software for Mac or iPad and iPhone, we’re also in the midst of testing the Windows version which will be released in the very near future. It would also be cool if you could take some of your free time to try to spread the word to others about the must-have possibilites that the jailbroken Apple TV offers. There are millions of first and second generation Apple TV users, many of whom are clueless that a jailbreak is even possible, do your part, give back a little by showing them how they can enjoy their devices even more.

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