Last week, Apple released iOS and iPadOS 14.4.2 along with iOS 12.5.2 for the older handsets that don’t support iOS and iPadOS 14. This was done as a fix to the WebKit-based security vulnerability that Apple knew was being actively exploited and had a negative impact on the user base.
Seeing that it has been a while since these updates were released, we are not surprised to hear that Apple has stopped signing of the iOS and iPadOS 14.4.1 from yesterday. Basically, Apple doesn’t want the users to voluntarily downgrade their handset’s firmware to the previous version which is why they have made this move.
If you own an Apple device, then this shouldn’t come as a shock to you as the company regularly stops signing the older firmware versions when it has already released the newer build. This is done to ensure that the user base of the company uses the latest version of iOS and iPadOS which will not only be beneficial for the company but for the end users as well.
Software downgrades are a common part of the jailbreak community as most jailbreak apps usually support an older version of iOS or iPadOS that can be accessed through kernel exploits. However, average users never need to downgrade their handset’s firmware.
The only time when an average user might want to downgrade is if the new upgrade introduced a bug that makes it difficult to access the handset. But such instances are pretty rare for Apple.
What’s interesting to know is that the change in the signed firmware version yesterday doesn’t impact anyone, even the jailbreak users. This is because jailbreak tools are available for iOS and iPadOS 14.0 – 14.3 versions of the latest devices and a small subset of the older devices that use A7-A11 chips can easily be jailbroken on iOS and iPadOS 14.4.2 with the help of checkra1n as it uses an un-patchable hardware-based bootrom exploit to work.
So, while today’s mention of unsigned firmware is useless, it is still worth knowing about.
Why Apple does this? Well, the company does this to ensure that the majority of users are taking advantage of the latest features and improvements made by Apple and also helps the company limit the access to jailbreaking. Moreover, forcing their users to upgrade to the newer version when they wish to restore their device also improves the company’s statistics that they can show off at the Keynote.
Is it possible to downgrade firmware once Apple has stopped signing it? Not necessarily. If you have the .shsh2 blobs of the specific version that as signed by Apple at the time saved, then you can use futurestore to downgrade and make your device eligible for jailbreaking. However, if you don’t have the .shsh2 blobs saved, then there isn’t much that you can do about it.