Ah, the venerable old Macintosh Portable. First introduced in 1989, the $6,500 wasn’t just a milestone in that it was the first battery-powered portable Mac, but it was also the first laptop ever used to send an email in space.
I’ve always been fond of the cute, suitcase-y design of the Portable Macintosh, so I’m delighted to see that some industrious hacker has given it a new life by gutting it and transplanting the innards of a Toshiba NB100 netbook inside. Some truly advanced soldering later, and you have, for all appearances, a pristine Macintosh Portable that can also run OS X Mountain Lion.
To prep for JailbreakCon this weekend, sit down with Cult of Mac and take a look back at the history of jailbreaking.
Back in 2007, Steve Jobs used a famous quote from ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky to summarize Apple’s commitment to innovation: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” That’s long been true for Apple and products like the iPhone and iPad. But for more than four years, jailbeaking has pushed the boundaries of iOS even farther.
If Apple skates to where the puck is going to be, then jailbreakers have usually already been there and left. The hackers and tinkerers that find security loopholes in Apple’s software are some of the most brilliant, innovative minds in the tech world.
We’ll be covering JailbreakCon 2012 this weekend in San Francisco, the world’s first convention dedicated solely to the jailbreak community. What better way to get ready for the future of jailbreaking than to examine the past? Let’s start from the beginning:
An old-as-the-hills Easter Egg has been rediscovered by New York based hacker collective NYC Resistor: hidden pictures of the Macintosh team from 1986 hidden in the Mac SE’s system ROM. The Easter Egg has been known about forever — references to it on the Internet go back to at least 1999 — but more interesting than the Easter Egg itself is how NYC Resistor discovered for themselves how it was done: by good, old fashioned hacking.
There is perhaps no name in the world of hacking as legendary as Geohot. George Hotz was the first person to unlock the original iPhone back in 2007. He was 17 years old at the time. He also released multiple jailbreaks, including “purplera1n” for the iPhone 3GS. Hotz later went on to hack the PlayStation 3 and battle Sony in a high-profile lawsuit.
In a recent profile by The New Yorker, we get a fascinating look at Hotz and several stories from his career as a prolific, self-taught hacker.
Nicholas Allegra, or "Comex," created iOS jailbreaks that were downloaded by millions of people. Apple finally decided to hire him as an intern last year.
iOS hackers are some of the most sought after individuals in the security research community. Geniuses like Comex who come up with jailbreaks used by millions of iPhone and iPad users are offered incredible sums of money to sell their exploits to powerful and high profile clients.
Sure, you could win a decent amount of cash at a security conference for showing off the exploits you’ve uncovered, but why not make $250,000 and secretly sell your stuff to say, an entity like the U.S. government?
Using just a cheap TV antenna, hackers could decrypt all of the secrets on your iPhone. Photo Jens Rost/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
BARCELONA, MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2012 — Last night I was treated to a security demonstration. Cryptography Research director Pankaj Rohatgi pointed a cheap, standard TV antenna at an iPod Touch several feet away, running standard RSA encryption operations.
On the screen of his oscilloscope was a sound-wave generated by his custom software showing distinct troughs at semi-regular intervals. These troughs, and their accompanying flattish peaks, represented the ones and zeroes of the private keys used in every secure communication we make today, sucked right from the iPod. With no further cracking required, all of your private operations can be read as if in plain text.
How is this done? From the electronic noise generated by every microchip as it goes about its processing duties.
If you’re the kind of geeky person who experienced a little thrill of joy when the hacking scene in Tron:Legacy included realistic use of a genuine command line interface, you (or perhaps your kids) might also enjoy playing with Hacker Typer.
Thanks to the success of Apple’s iOS devices and its iTunes music store, the company’s iTunes software is installed on more than 250 Million Macs and PCs all over the world, making it one of the most popular media players available. It may not have been so popular, however, had users known it came with a security flaw that allowed government intelligence agencies and the police to monitor them.