IPhone jailbreaking now a thing of the past?

Jailbreaking allows unauthorized applications to run on an iPhone, breaking Apple's stranglehold.

Apple seems to have, for the moment, stopped experimenters from "jailbreaking" its most recent shipment of iPhone 3GS handsets. How long this situation will last is anyone's guess--Apple must hope it's forever.

Jailbreaking allows unauthorized applications to be loaded onto the iPhone. A related hack, called "unlocking," allows an iPhone to operate on other carriers' networks, such as T-Mobile in the U.S.

The hackers' defeat was first noted in a post yesterday on iClarified.

Together, jailbreaking and unlocking defeats Apple's stranglehold on its iPhone platform. Since the iPhone's release, the company has tried a number of methods to block jailbreaking but to only temporary advantage.

Apple has claimed hacked iPhones could damage the cellular network.

The newest weapon in Apple's arsenal is a change to the iPhone "bootrom," which is software that checks the phone's software status before it is allowed to turn on. If it senses a problem, the phone may not operate properly and certainly cannot be broken into.

Hackers previously used an exploit called "24kpwn" to beat the bootrom, but the hack reportedly no longer works on shipments of iPhones that began arriving in stores last week.

Those handsets feature a new bootrom, nicknamed "iBoot-359.3.2," the new devices appear unsusceptible to the 24kpwn attack. If the phone cannot be jailbreaked, it is thought unlocking may be impossible, as well.

Hackers are suggesting purchasing older stock or refurbished phones as a workaround while they develop a new exploit to match the new bootrom.

Previously, every Apple effort has been defeated by a new hack. It will be interesting to see how long the new bootrom remains secure.

David Coursey tweets as @techinciter and can be contacted via his Web site.

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David Coursey

PC World (US online)
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