Its a good old fashion prison break--the iPhone and iPod Touch are freed from the confines of a locked file system.

The release of Apple's firmware v1.1.1 update was supposed to be an exciting event, which heralded the arrival of mobile iTunes and special promotions with Starbucks.  It turned out to be chiefly a dragnet by Apple to catch rogue unlocked iPhones and "brick" them.

Of course, despite Apple's best efforts, it was only a matter of time before someone cracked the new firmware's protection -- they did unlock the phone's protection in the first place after all.

One of the most dreaded parts of Apple's update was the fact that it locked iPhones and iPod touches from using any third party applications by locking the file system.  Some saw this as a death knell for the burgeoning iPhone homebrew community.

Undeterred, hackers plotted how to spring the iPhone and iPod touch from the confines of their new protection scheme.  The first development came from hackers dinopio and edgan, who discovered a hack to upgrade phones from v1.0.2 to v1.1.1 while retaining read/write access.  Unfortunately, the use of this hack was limited, as you still could not execute programs and you could install it on phones not already updated to v1.1.1 (or you would have to restore v1.0.2, then upgrade).  This hack is known as the Symlink Hack.

They continued plotting though and developed a new version of their hack which allowed the much desired execute privilege and included support for the SpringBoard (the application launcher) to recognize third party applications once again (this support was courtesy of the hacker pumpkin).

With this release in the works, setting to bust the iPhone and iPod touch free, another temporary solution has also been found.

Two other hackers, Niacin (aka toc2rta) and Dre have combined the Symlink Hack with the known TIFF file system vulnerability in the devices' Safari browser.  The result is that iPhones and iPod Touches already upgrade to v1.1.1 can simply load an image of the file to give full root system access.

In other words, their hack can full break the locked iPhone and iPod touch out of jail and let them use third-party applications. The hack has been tested and confirmed by online tech sources and is due out later today.

While this hack seems easier than the previous iteration of the Symlink Hack, unfortunately, Apple will likely be swift to patch the TIFF vulnerability, so edgan and dinopio's Symlink Hack will probably be more long lived.

Despite Apple's best efforts, it appears you just can't lock up an iPhone or iPod touch and expect its friends not to spring it within a week or two.

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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