updated 10:30 pm EDT, Mon May 19, 2014
Based on 'beautiful kernel bug,' vulnerability may be difficult to quickly fix
Not one but two well-known hack researchers have now posted evidence of working jailbreaks for iOS 7.1.1, which until now had closed the existing loopholes used by other techniques such as evasi0n. While interest in and use of jailbreaks has waned as Apple has gotten better at closing vulnerabilities, enthusiasts and die-hard customizers continue to want the ability to use unofficial apps or tweak settings in the latest iOS releases.
Stefan Essar, better known in the jailbreak community as i0n1c, posted a tweet with an image of an iPhone 5c that has been jailbroken but is still using iOS 7.1.1. He said that the vulnerability he exploited to accomplish the hack "is not based on a long vulnerability chain. It uses a single beautiful kernel bug that goes from mobile to kernel," meaning it could be difficult for Apple to fix the issue anytime soon.
i0n1c's iOS 7.1.1 jailbreak
Another problem with the hack is that there may not be enough time left in the iOS 7.x cycle to release a widespread installer for jailbreaking. Apple is expected to announce iOS 8 at its Worldwide Developers' Conference next month, with an anticipated fall release date, and jailbreak hackers will likely focus on efforts to provide jailbreaks for that iOS version rather than clean up the current 7.x exploit.
A second jailbreaker hacker, winocm, also announced that he has come up with a 7.1.1 jailbreak based on a different vulnerability, but is seeking collaborators to help port and test the exploit on newer iOS devices. He is also said to be starting an internship at Apple soon, which would naturally curtail any further effort on developing the jailbreak. Apple has periodically hired some of the more prominent jailbreakers as security researchers, shrinking the pool of available talent for new jailbreaks.