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An iPhone dumping debugging information to the screen. (Source: iPhone Dev Wiki)
"You cannot resist your fate, it is inevitable..."

In the next incarnation of a series of hacks against the iPhone comes a new gem: full shell access. Last Friday "geohot" of the Hackint0sh forums, representing the #iPhone channel on, announced that he/she had gained access to a debugging command prompt via the iPhone's data connector. More importantly, the command prompt includes the ability to transfer files via TFTP, which can allow hackers to transfer data--and maybe user programs, eventually--to and from the iPhone.

At this time, we have not seen any outside confirmation of #iPhone's work, though as time passes more parties will come forward with additional information.

Currently, the hack requires a fair bit of know-how in electronics and soldering, although someone may likely be selling ready-made cables in the future. The hack isn't much of a security risk as execution requires a hardware access and a little bit of preparation via other homebrew software. However, with access to the iPhone internals, it is conceivable that further hacks could be developed as a result of this newfound access.

Today, a progress report on the iPhone Dev Wiki clarified some of the findings from Friday:

"The bootloader is basically a dead end. Everything that goes into it must be signed, and without apples 1024-bit RSA private key, this isn't going to happen. Fortunately we have another in. We have basically full command over the file system and can upload, copy, and run files. I'll say this, ringtones would be a *trivial* thing to do now. We know the radio is accessible though software from from this bbupdate dump. Once the toolchain is working, we can write a program to write to /dev/tty.baseband, and finally unlock this thing."

Previous hacks include someone brute-forcing the iPhone's internal system passwords, and the ability to activate parts of the iPhone without going through AT&T.

A command list for the command prompt is available here.

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Wow, that was fast
By SirLucius on 7/9/2007 4:17:53 PM , Rating: 2
I'm always amazed at how fast these guys can crack systems. It'll be interesting to see how much of a mod community emerges for the iPhone and how much funcionality they can really get out of the phone.

RE: Wow, that was fast
By TomZ on 7/9/2007 5:06:07 PM , Rating: 3
The short time also reflects Apple's completely lame attempt to lock down the device. If you read the details of the hacking, it is pretty clear that Apple did not put much emphasis on security with the iPhone. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and whether in the end this turns out to be a smart or dumb move on Apple's part.

RE: Wow, that was fast
By darkpaw on 7/9/2007 5:23:26 PM , Rating: 2
No kidding. The passwords they used were a total joke even if the passwords alone didn't unlock anything.

RE: Wow, that was fast
By rbuszka on 7/9/2007 9:01:25 PM , Rating: 2
My question is, did AT&T build any funky clauses into their contract with Apple that requires Apple to actively defend AT&T's sole providership on the phone? That is, is there any legal fine print that states that it's illegal to use the iPhone with any other provider, or that AT&T could sue Apple for breach of contract over something like this?

RE: Wow, that was fast
By Misty Dingos on 7/9/2007 9:15:48 PM , Rating: 3
I am not sure that Apple really cares about the security of the Iphone. If the Iphone can be easily hacked then they should sell more of them. More sold means more profit. As long as no one copies it I would believe that the security issues will take a back seat to other improvements to the Iphone.

RE: Wow, that was fast
By sxr7171 on 7/10/2007 12:41:33 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah they probably didn't care. I mean everyone who buys one has to sign away 2 years to AT&T even if they unlock it later. If anything it will increase sales and both Apple and AT&T will be laughing all the way to bank (well unless someone jacks a couple of cargo containers of these).

RE: Wow, that was fast
By Griswold on 7/10/2007 2:58:25 AM , Rating: 1
I read one can buy themselves out of the AT&T contract for $175. If thats true, I bet AT&T does care if the phone, at one point in time, can be relatively easy unlocked and used with a different provider.

RE: Wow, that was fast
By oTAL on 7/10/2007 9:28:41 AM , Rating: 4
One does not need to sign a contract with AT&T...
You are allowed to buy a phone and take it home. You're supposed to register and get a contract through iTunes.

If you are able to unlock the phone, you can just slide in the SIM card of any operator and it will work like any regular phone.
The only thing that will not work is the iPhone specific, infrastructure level stuff, like the visual voice mail.

RE: Wow, that was fast
By augiem on 7/10/2007 12:33:25 PM , Rating: 2
I read that customers can get month to month contracts on the i-phone if they have bad credit.

RE: Wow, that was fast
By Hoser McMoose on 7/10/2007 3:23:02 PM , Rating: 3
More importantly, it'll be interesting to see how long it'll take before some malicious hacker uses this to pwn a bot-net of iPhones and starts making long-distance phone calls to Africa with them!

Sadly that situation actually might be a possibility.

RE: Wow, that was fast
By JoKeRr on 7/10/2007 3:30:29 PM , Rating: 2
I work for a high-tech company, and the day iPhone was launched, we got a mass-email from IT dept telling us to stick with blackberry and avoid iPhone b/c it doesn't meet our security standard.

RE: Wow, that was fast
By TomZ on 7/10/2007 8:14:30 PM , Rating: 3
Yes, in many ways, iPhone is not suitable for business users. Which is kind of dumb, if you think about it, since business users buy most of the high-end cell phone-type devices. I guess they're going after an entirely different market.

By INeedCache on 7/20/2007 6:40:14 PM , Rating: 2
Apple products don't get hacked. They are all 100% secure.

Iphone cracks
By andrinoaa on 7/11/2007 3:26:47 AM , Rating: 1
I would buy one just to use as a PDA (provided I could find usefull software )My wish list is
1/ spectrum analyser
2/ radio
3/ phone
4/ memory stick 16-32Gb
5/ audio recorder
anyone else have a good use for a cracked Iphone?
LOVE the interface

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il
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