Hiring the Hackers and iOS Jailbreak Developers
Apple has, in recent history, hired two known members of the iPhone jailbreaking community. One was Peter Hajas, a jailbreak developer who had created an improved notification system for jailbroken iPhones. The second is Nicholas Allegra, better known as Comex, a skilled hacker who has discovered many security holes in iOS in the past, such as the JailbreakMe.com PDF Exploit, which made it possible to jailbreak an iOS device by simply navigating to a URL.
Apple cares about the security of their devices. That’s why they’re always plugging holes and fixing exploits. They fixed the PDF exploit very soon after Comex released it. While most of it is because they don’t want users jailbreaking their devices, the exploit was actually a legitimate security concern as it could easily be used to install malicious files on the iPhone or iPad, which is why the jailbreak community even created a patch to be downloaded after your device is jailbroken.
Doing it Right
Apple understands that hackers like Comex know security better than the rest of us. His jailbreak was lightyears ahead of what anyone else came up with. If his internship involves security he will be a strong asset to the folks in Cupertino. However, it may be bad news for jailbreakers as one of the best out there goes on to work on security. Still, there are many great minds out there working on solutions.
Doing it Wrong
Then there was the highly-publicized Sony vs Geohot thing that went on earlier this year. Sony Computer Entertainment filed suit against the well-known iPhone hacker after team fail0verflow had discovered the PS3 encryption keys. What’s interesting is that according to him, he made sure that his exploit would not allow piracy on the PlayStation 3.
What’s interesting is that around the time he released them, Geohot said something to the effect of “it would be interesting to work from the other side someday.” Hinting that he’d like to try working from the security side of things for one of the major companies rather than trying to just crack the systems.
Sony eventually settled with Geohot, and now he has distanced himself from Sony and the PlayStation hacking community. He kinda has to, of course, otherwise Sony will come after him with the legal force of a battering ram plowing through a screen door.
Will This Mean Changes for the Jailbreak Community?
We doubt it will change too much. Sure, Comex will find some potential exploits, but many of those may also be related to security or safety. There are many more minds out there working and discovering ways to jailbreak the iPhone. It’s also important to keep in mind that Apple is obviously paying attention to what jailbreakers are doing, which is why they have also brought aboard the developer that created the improved notification system. They definitely keep tabs on interesting jailbreak applications that truly make for a better iPhone experience.
Update: Comex answers some questions about his upcoming position with Apple – Link