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.

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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.

U forgot Jon Leck Aka DVD jon
By indianpunk on 8/29/2007 10:43:15 AM , Rating: 3
Did u guys seriosly forget him (which i doubt)
or he does not deserve a place here or am i missing someting

RE: U forgot Jon Leck Aka DVD jon
By JasonMick on 8/29/2007 11:36:41 AM , Rating: 3
Actually, he would deserve a place in a list of significant hackers, but my list was a themed one of hackers and pirates who have used there skills to gain significant material rewards, particularly some ones who were historically famous, as well as a couple recent featured at

DVD Jon was another historically significant hacker, especially with his recent defeat of FairPlay DRM, but he still has not used his skills to gain significant material rewards and so didn't fit in the list much. I am very interested in his work, and if I had more room in the list I might have added him anyway!

I hope no famous hackers from the hacker community reads my blog and begrudge me for not including them!

By indianpunk on 8/29/2007 4:20:08 PM , Rating: 2
thanks for the quick reply
as being from a commerce and management background i usually dont have a clew of what going in the coding world but i am very active about the it/tech world
and jon lech's blog is gr8 place in knowing things in the life of a hacker

this kid above has done a a gr8 job
as it was mentioned here some days ago can do the unlocking stuff with just some software wonder whats the story behind that

By masher2 on 8/29/2007 11:27:43 AM , Rating: 4
Very nice article, Jason.

RE: Outstanding
By JasonMick on 8/29/2007 11:43:42 AM , Rating: 4
Thanks Masher,
I will try to mix it up regularly and post some tech articles that we can all appreciate!

I do always enjoy your perspective, believe it or not, and I appreciate that you encourage me in your own way to be careful what I state and to be careful to research my claims. You are obviously very intelligent, so I am glad you found my article to be respectable!

Gary McKinnon, Pentagon/NASA hacker
By Joz on 8/29/2007 11:33:02 AM , Rating: 2
Dont you think SOMEONE would give him a job?

Dude must be a Decepticon!

The dude ust hacked into NASA, AND THE PENTAGON!

By JasonMick on 8/29/2007 11:41:00 AM , Rating: 3
Depends on if he cooperates/offers to work for the government, or decides rotting in jail for 70 yrs. is better. He does seem a bit out there, so I am not sure what he will decide. I put him as a loser because his sentencing, if convicted of even half the full sentence (35 yr.) would be a historic one. Typically hackers just get one or two short sentences, do their time and turn to more white-hat activities. A 35 yr. sentence would end the prime years of McKinnon's life.

This kid deserves attention
By Etern205 on 8/29/2007 11:44:42 AM , Rating: 2
This was on the newspaper a few days ago, but
when I checked on the Internet, no one had
mentioned about this kid hacking the iPhone through
hardware. The news on the net was mostly about hacking
iPhone through software. Glad to see this site
this kid deserves credit.

gary mckinnon
By qwertymnbv on 9/8/2007 9:25:42 PM , Rating: 2
a minor correction - he has not been extradited yet, but has one the right to appeal the decision in the house of lords :

"If you mod me down, I will become more insightful than you can possibly imagine." -- Slashdot

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