Print 14 comment(s) - last by Polynikes.. on Sep 26 at 12:53 PM

Teenage profits richly from his work by trading his hacked iPhone to a company for a new car and 3 new 8GB iPhones.

George Hotz, a 17 year old from Glen Rock, New Jersey, hacked his way to internet fame and notoriety when he managed to unlock the iPhone via a mix of soldering and software.

Several groups have unlocked the iPhone's previously AT&T exclusive SIM card to work on the mostly compatible T-Mobile network, as previously reported at DailyTech. The groups have typically not revealed their techniques to the general public and some have sought to use their knowledge to create unlocking businesses. In contrast, Hotz’s hack was posted entirely free of charge, in relatively easy to follow steps, on his blog. The steps do require physically opening the phone, and a strong enough stomach to perform a few small solders on a $500 to $600 piece of electronics.

Continuing an unsurprising trend of smart people being rewarded for doing smart things -- even when those smart things are quasi-legal -- the teenager has reaped a pirate's booty for his work. CNN reported that the teenager had traded his unlock phone, complete with a signature faceplate to a Louisville, Kentucky based cell-phone repair company for three new 8GB iPhones and a Nissan 350Z, which the article quotes George as describing as "sweet".

The teenager also landed himself a paid consulting job with the company, CertiCell. He initially made the deal through Terry Daidone, cofounder of CertiCell.

CertiCell is remaining mum about why exactly they want the unlocked cell phone, though it is easy to speculate. Mr. Daidone released a statement that,

"We do not have any plans on the table right now to commercialize Mr. Hotz' discovery."

Whether a company would give $1,800 dollars in iPhones and a car to a teenager as a congratulations gift and as an incentive for future good work leaves one to wonder.

As mentioned, successful hackers have often been rewarded handsomely. In honor of the teenager's success and hot new ride, it is worthwhile to take a look back through time at stories of lucky hackers and pirates getting rewarded, and the less fortunate famous hackers and pirates who were busted, many as featured on DailyTech.

Successful hackers and pirates include:

  • Former hacker and Wired magazine editor, Kevin Poulsen, who used a Perl script in 2007 to successfully identify 744 registered sex offenders, including a result which led to the arrest of a predator.
  • Unnamed hacker, hired in 2007 by the MPAA to spy on torrent sites, who after receiving his payment, turned double agent and handed over information about his relationship with the organization to the sued party, which launched a massive countersuit, quite possibly yielding more money for the hacker.
  • "The homeless hacker" Adrian Lamo who hacked Microsoft and the New York Times. He spent six months in home confinement for his crimes and today is an award winning journalist and public speaker, often writing or speaking about computer security.
  • Robert Tappan Morris, inventor of the computer worm, founded and later sold what would become the Yahoo! Store. Morris is currently working as a tenured professor at MIT
  • Shawn "Napster" Fanning, creator of the landmark p2p program, Napster, has since moved on to starting his own company and making a cameo appearance in the movie "The Italian Job".

Less fortunate hackers and pirates include:

These are only a few of the famous stories of the hacker community. Whether George Hotz's deserves a place among these talented individuals is questionable, but for now he can at least enjoy the rewards of his work.

Comments     Threshold

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By Polynikes on 8/29/2007 5:21:47 PM , Rating: 2
What a lucky bastard.

RE: Wow
By Eris23007 on 8/29/2007 5:32:00 PM , Rating: 2
Try "What an innovative, motivated, insightful, hard-working, tenacious 17-year-old." He accomplished something that hackers with years of experience from across the globe had been trying for months.

"Lucky" huh? I bet you think Bill Gates was "lucky" too.

Has everyone lost all respect for the values of hard work and "never give up"?

RE: Wow
By exdeath on 8/29/2007 6:59:51 PM , Rating: 3
The only issue I see being "lucky" are the circumstances...

There are many gifted and talented people out there, but how many of them have access to $10,000 logic analyzers, FPGA devices, scopes, etc. sometimes needed to reverse engineer hardware?

That 1 smart kid out of 1000 others happen to have rich parents (either for the equipment or for a high $ school that has the equipment) is certainly "luck" if you look at it that way.

Not sure thats the case here, just saying.

RE: Wow
By mindless1 on 8/29/2007 9:44:00 PM , Rating: 2
Quit being so self-righteous, the luck was that his hack was discovered by someone who wanted to reward / pay him with the phones and car.

Has everyone lost the ability to think while reading?

RE: Wow
By Polynikes on 9/26/2007 12:53:50 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, I was referring to the ridiculous payment he got for his incredibly "hard work." It was far greater than his "amazing" achievement, which was just a bit of soldering and was honestly the worst possible way to get around the restriction. Hind sight now shows us that a much better, easier fix was soon to come.

And don't even get me started on Bill Gates, we all know his success wasn't quite so much hard work as it was buying DOS and "borrowing" Apple's idea of using a GUI. I'm not saying he isn't a smart guy, but there's a big difference between genuine innovation and re-working a pre-existing piece of software or an idea.

But then again, my idea of hard work is something like leading an infantry squad in combat operations in a foreign country, so perhaps my standards are a bit higher than yours.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

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