Why You Shouldn't Jailbreak Your BlackBerry PlayBook

A recently released software tool, called "DingleBerry," can "jailbreak" or "root" RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. But just because you can jailbreak the PlayBook, doesn't mean you should. CIO.com's Al Sacco explains why.

UPDATE 2: Shortly after RIM released a PlayBook software update to address the security issue exploited by the DingleBerry jailbreak tool, the DingleBerry developers announced that they had already found another flaw in the latest PlayBook OS and that software has apparently already been "rooted" again. This cannot be good for RIM and the PlayBook, which the company has branded as the " worl'ds first professional-grade tablet" since it was first released.

UPDATE 1: RIM is now rolling out a new, 5MB PlayBook software update (v 1.0.8.6067) that includes a fix for the flaw used by the DingleBerry tool to jailbreak the BlackBerry PlayBook, according to CrackBerry.com.

A group of developers/hackers/codemonkeys this week released a new tool, called "DingleBerry," that reportedly lets BlackBerry PlayBook owners "root" or "jailbreak" their Research In Motion (RIM) tablets.

PlayBook_DingleBerry.jpg

Jailbreaking removes a variety of manufacturer-imposed device restrictions and grants the user root access to core system resources. And it is particularly popular right now among Apple iPhone/iPad and Android owners, since it allows for advanced customization options and the ability to download and install any compatible application the user chooses, regardless of whether or not the software has been approved for official distribution via a device maker's app store.

DingleBerry is the first publicly available utility for jailbreaking PlayBooks—it is, in fact, the first widely available tool for jailbreaking any BlackBerry device. (Find more information on how DingleBerry works here.)

But there are clear downsides to jailbreaking, the most notable of which are increased security risks, since many manufacturer settings and restriction removed during the jailbreak process are meant to protect data stored on the device and prevent data or resource theft; and degraded overall device performance.

So before making a decision to jailbreak a device, a smart user weighs the risks of doing so against the rewards. And right now, I don't really see any reason to jailbreak or root your BlackBerry PlayBook. Here's why.

DingleBerry doesn't enable any features or functionality that make jailbreaking worth it...yet. The tool reportedly removes core system protections, potentially opening up your device to trouble, but that's about it. An unreleased version of DingleBerry supposedly enables Netflix and Hulu playback, which is currently blocked via the PlayBook browser. But the available version doesn't enable Netflix or Hulu.

Also, it's not particularly difficult to "sideload" unapproved PlayBook apps without jailbreaking—I've done it myself a few times to use and test out beta versions of apps. So you can already load just about any PlayBook-compatible app onto your device without root access. (More details on how to sideload PlayBook apps can be found here.)

In other words, it simply doesn't make sense to jailbreak your PlayBook at this point, because the risks outweigh the rewards. That may change in the not-so-distant future, after crafty developers spend some time investigating the possibilities opened up via PlayBook jailbreaking. But right now, I can't think of one good reason to jailbreak, except perhaps to prove that it can be done.

RIM is also well aware of the DingleBerry tool—it released an official statement last week and CrackBerry.com even claims it notified the Canadian company of the flaw that DingleBerry exploits months ago. And RIM will very likely soon issue an OS update that patches the DingleBerry vulnerability and shores up the current security hole.

So, unless you simply like tinkering with your PlayBook for the sake of tinkering—and you're willing to deal with the security implications—I'd avoid a PlayBook jailbreak for the time being.

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