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Print 31 comment(s) - last by sprockkets.. on Nov 5 at 3:12 AM


Poor Apple. It must hurt, to get outsmarted yet again by George Hotz, a prolific iPhone hacker.  (Source: On the iPhone)
Apple's hardware team can't seem to keep their close platform closed

Apple has a big headache.  That headache is iPhone unlockers and jailbreakers.  With iPhone jailbreaking, the powerful handsets are no longer constrained to only run the apps that Apple allows.  And with unlocking, users can jump onto other networks, leaving Apple's partner AT&T and its patchy 3G network behind.

Apple has long and unsuccessfully waged war with the unlockers.  It has tried to brick their iPhones.  It has tried to release new firmware versions to try to lock them out.  But ultimately, time and time again, Apple's best hardware and software engineers are finding themselves outwitted and befuddled by the persistent hackers.

Leading the crew is George Hotz, a 20-year-old New Jersey native who goes by the aliases geohot, million75, or mil online.  When he was just a teen, he became the first to develop a procedure to jailbreak the iPhone allowing its use on other networks.  The move netted him a hot car, extra iPhones, money, and fame.  Now slightly older and a month out of his teenage years, Hotz continues to be among the most prolific iPhone unlockers, consistently outsmarting Apple.

Now Hotz has released his latest masterpiece, blacksn0w, a free unlocking utility that works with the latest iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS hardware (the latest 05.11.07 baseband, which locked out previous hacks).  The unlock works with a new version of Hotz's popular purplera1n jailbreak hack, dubbed blackra1n.  Together the hacks can both free the phone from the AT&T network and Apple's app restrictions.

Blacksn0w is available through the renegade app store Cydia, which specializes in apps Apple has rejected.  Full support for Tiger and Power PC Macs has been added with the latest version of blackra1n, blackra1n RC3. The process for Apple and Windows users is detailed in easy tutorials here, and here, respectively.

One can only wonder if Apple is truly trying to defeat the unlockers.  If so, how can the schemes of its seasoned engineers continually be foiled by Hotz and his legion of young iPhone hackers?  On the other hand, if it doesn't truly oppose unlocking, why would it lobby the government to outlaw the practice, claiming it supports terrorism and drug dealing?

Regardless of whether Apple truly opposes unlocking/jailbreaking or not, the work by Hotz, et. al is welcome as it introduces the iPhone to the free market of multiple app stores and networks.  It also allows tethering -- a feature currently banned by Apple and AT&T (be careful with this one, though, you can run over your data limits and get charged an arm and a leg -- we warned you!).


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So I thought
By Denigrate on 11/3/2009 2:43:12 PM , Rating: 2
So I thought there was some sort of legislation a while back making it so all cell phones had to be unlocked at the users request. Is that just wrong remembering?




RE: So I thought
By weskurtz0081 on 11/3/2009 2:45:49 PM , Rating: 5
I think you have to actually be able to make calls for it to be considered a cell phone. So, considering how craptacular AT&T's network is, all AT&T phone might be exempt :)


RE: So I thought
By RW on 11/3/09, Rating: -1
RE: So I thought
By Screwballl on 11/3/2009 2:58:36 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
So I thought there was some sort of legislation a while back making it so all cell phones had to be unlocked at the users request. Is that just wrong remembering?


The bills were there but the telcos lobbied/shot it down because it also changed the rules to allow companies to come in and lay their own network...

quote:
...Established telecoms are obviously none too thrilled about initiatives like this, as they have lobbied fiercely in the past to stop cities like Seattle from laying fiber when the ruling provider—Qwest, in this case—doesn't even have plans to lay its own.


This would have opened up the entire US for competition from telcos where they previously did not or could not introduce new services. You would not be locked down to a monopoly or duopoly for local ISP/phone/TV services (via land based lines).


RE: So I thought
By JasonMick (blog) on 11/3/2009 3:14:18 PM , Rating: 5
It's the law in parts of Europe and elsewhere around the world, but here in the U.S. the telecoms have won out over consumers thanks to the vast amounts of money into lobbying and pressuring government officials.

Apple, in fact is trying to get the government to do the reverse -- outlaw jailbreaking and outlawing. It claims that jailbroken/unlocked iPhones are a terrorist threat as it claims they can be used to attack cell phone towers. To call such claims ridiculous is to put it mildly, but what worries me is that with all the lobbying money supporting locking, our elected officials might actually go along with them...


RE: So I thought
By sprockkets on 11/5/2009 3:12:32 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's the law in parts of Europe and elsewhere around the world, but here in the U.S. the telecoms have won out over consumers thanks to the vast amounts of money into lobbying and pressuring government officials.


Even thought it isn't the law here, both major GSM carriers unlock phones after 90 days, save for the iphone of course. CDMA phones are easy to unlock and program, albeit with such limited potential with CDMA not being used widespread.

Unlocking your phone for the sole purpose of using your phone on other networks is currently legal due to a DMCA excemption granted almost 3 years ago.

5. Computer programs in the form of
firmware that enable wireless telephone
handsets to connect to a wireless
telephone communication network,
when circumvention is accomplished for
the sole purpose of lawfully connecting
to a wireless telephone communication
network.

http://www.copyright.gov/fedreg/2006/71fr68472.pdf

quote:
Apple, in fact is trying to get the government to do the reverse -- outlaw jailbreaking and outlawing.


The problem with your post is how horribly incorrect you are

The EFF wants a DMCA exception granted to hack the iphone to circumvent the app store, since it is already illegal to begin with since it involves hacking firmware to run software without being digitally signed, which otherwise is decrypted by keys stored in the ROM.

The only reason why the EFF, specifically Fred von Lohmann even cares is because Apple rejected their app which contained an "F-Bomb."

Oh, and since it already is illegal, it relegates jailbreaking to a grey, small scale market, so Apple has never sued any person or web site working on hacking the iphone/itouch. Allowing a DMCA exception to allow wide-scale distribution of commercial programs which allow the ability to pirate applications on the iphone is ridiculous.

You never talk about the benefits of a closed app store clamping down on piracy, thus lowering prices; for example, Astraware games for Android and iphones cost half as much as the Palm OS and WinMobile do.

quote:
It claims that jailbroken/unlocked iPhones are a terrorist threat as it claims they can be used to attack cell phone towers. To call such claims ridiculous is to put it mildly, but what worries me is that with all the lobbying money supporting locking, our elected officials might actually go along with them...


Perhaps you haven't heard how "hackers" demonstrated how easy it is to hack networks already via commodity hardware.

http://itknowledgeexchange.techtarget.com/security...


Errors abound
By Shadowself on 11/3/09, Rating: 0
RE: Errors abound
By InternetGeek on 11/3/2009 4:39:24 PM , Rating: 2
Apologist. Apple's behavior is always aimed at control. They getting together with ATT is because those two are like siamese twins.


RE: Errors abound
By talozin on 11/3/2009 7:16:55 PM , Rating: 5
Of course Apple does not care about unlockers.

I think that's wrong; Apple does very much care about unlockers, because they believe that the "Apple experience" is a big part of what they're selling. They want to control that experience, because they think they know what users want.

At the same time, I doubt Apple is crying bitter tears about that fact that someone has figured out how to do something that 1% of their iPhone customer base is ever going to bother doing. If I were a conspiracy theoriest, I'd think this was all part of the plan:

STEVE. Good afternoon, Phil. Thanks for coming by. We have a problem.

PHIL. Uh oh. What's the problem?

STEVE. iPhone sales are down this month. You know what that means.

PHIL. Time to release another update?

STEVE. That's right. Make it a little harder to get them unlocked this time, why don't you? The more hackers we can sell extra hardware to, the better.

PHIL. Will do. Hey, when are we going to start leaning on AT&T to enable tethering?

(STEVE and PHIL both laugh hysterically.)


RE: Errors abound
By JasonMick (blog) on 11/3/2009 7:35:39 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
STEVE. iPhone sales are down this month. You know what that means.

PHIL. Time to release another update?

STEVE. That's right. Make it a little harder to get them unlocked this time, why don't you? The more hackers we can sell extra hardware to, the better.

<ackbar>It's a trap!</ackbar>


RE: Errors abound
By MrWho on 11/4/2009 5:25:36 AM , Rating: 2
6! \o/


RE: Errors abound
By frobizzle on 11/4/2009 9:46:02 AM , Rating: 2
I think Apple likes this cat and mouse game with the unlockers. It is free advertising for them and gets their name in the news.


Out smarted by a kid
By weskurtz0081 on 11/3/2009 2:43:49 PM , Rating: 4
Seriously, it's amazing that a company that makes an OS that doesn't even need virus protection (oh, wait, they recommend that now) can't keep a 20 year old kid from cracking it's phone wide open time after time.

It's amazing what happens when you have a little bit of market share isn't it?




RE: Out smarted by a kid
By PrinceGaz on 11/3/2009 8:00:59 PM , Rating: 3
This George Hotz has admitted that he spent rather a lot of time (many many weeks) working on his first crack. It became almost an obsession for him over the summer break. Nowadays I guess he is just using everything he found as needed, whilst continuing to dig around regularly in the firmware to discover new opportunities as needed.

This isn't something he cooked up over a weekend. It was originally the result of many weeks of hard work, and whilst he may package it up as one click tools like "blackra1n" now, there is probably months of work behind these cracks now.

What amazes me is why Apple continue to lock the iPhone/iTouch platform, even when third-party products are often so much better (SBSettings anyone?).

I'll never ever update the OS version on my iTouch again until I am 99% certain I'll be able to jailbreak it, as jailbreaking it makes it so much more flexible.


RE: Out smarted by a kid
By pcfxer on 11/4/2009 8:06:46 AM , Rating: 2
zeroes and ones my friend. On the other I have more important things to do, like obtain a computer science degree and HELP community projects like *BSD, Linux, etc.

Thanks for helping George!


big deal...
By teng029 on 11/3/2009 2:59:20 PM , Rating: 2
it's man made.. sooner or later someone would have found a way to break it.




RE: big deal...
By weskurtz0081 on 11/3/2009 3:09:03 PM , Rating: 3
You sure it's not made by the Gods?


RE: big deal...
By jhb116 on 11/3/2009 9:27:56 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't that obvious?


LOTR
By snikt on 11/3/2009 2:49:48 PM , Rating: 2
Is it just me, or does that George Hotz guy look like Frodo Baggins?




RE: LOTR
By PrinceGaz on 11/3/2009 7:47:18 PM , Rating: 3
Because of the curly hair? I don't care; I think he looks hot in the pic you see when blackra1n has worked (part of the same pic included in this DT article).

He's a talented guy and I just hope he continues using his brain to do what he has been doing re jailbreaking (and now unlocking), and as for his looks, I'm sure there's plenty of girls (or guys) who would love to have him as a partner.


article error
By gevorg on 11/3/2009 2:44:58 PM , Rating: 2
"With iPhone jailbreaking , the powerful handsets are no longer constrained to only run the apps that Apple allows. And with unlocking , users can jump onto other networks, leaving Apple's partner AT&T and its patchy 3G network behind."

Fixed.




RE: article error
By JasonMick (blog) on 11/3/2009 3:09:26 PM , Rating: 2
Good catch, thanks!

It's fixed now.


Jailbreak vs Unlock
By Plifzig on 11/3/2009 2:47:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
With iPhone unlocking, the powerful handsets are no longer constrained to only run the apps that Apple allows. And with jailbreaking, users can jump onto other networks...


This is bass ackwards.

Jailbreak = non-iStore apps
Unlock = different carriers




RE: Jailbreak vs Unlock
By jhb116 on 11/3/2009 9:32:23 PM , Rating: 2
Is that true - I seem to recall the term "jailbreaking" before the apps came to be on the iPhone? In fact - I thought the term was meant to also be a jab at AT&T's network?


Hir'em
By danvdr on 11/3/2009 4:00:32 PM , Rating: 2
Seems like Apple should consider hiring this kid. A greater challenge for him is now to make an unbreakable iPhone.




RE: Hir'em
By Tamale on 11/3/2009 4:21:21 PM , Rating: 2
he of all people I'm sure knows you can't create something that is unbreakable and still usable.


By DukeN on 11/3/2009 11:53:57 PM , Rating: 3
I say screw em. If they cheer when customers are screwed, I hope they go down the pipe.




Why is it so easy to jailbreak?
By PandaBear on 11/3/2009 5:07:10 PM , Rating: 2
Because all of the components Apple use are purchased rather than developed in-house. So all the specs are there and things can be reverse engineered.

If Apple make a chip and encrypt the system with the in-ASIC-encryption key, then it would be much harder if not impossible to jailbreak. However that makes it hard to develop and they won't be able to take advantage of the latest development in the industry.




Really Trying
By Rindis on 11/3/2009 5:33:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
One can only wonder if Apple is truly trying to defeat the unlockers. If so, how can the schemes of its seasoned engineers continually be foiled by Hotz and his legion of young iPhone hackers?

Of course they are. It's just much easier to use a lockpick than to design a lock.




Security
By R6Raven on 11/4/2009 8:34:35 AM , Rating: 2
This really shouldn't be such a big topic of discussion to begin with. If there's one thing I have learned, it's that there's no such thing as perfectly secure, only secure enough that someone doing something malicious will go elsewhere. It was only a matter of time, because as good as these engineers are, there will ALWAYS be someone smarter or more creative, and that goes for Windows, Apple and just about any other platform.




Sigh
By bill3 on 11/4/09, Rating: -1
"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation














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