The iPhone SDK, Hackers, and Malware

Back when the iPhone was officially released in June of 2007, Apple had already made their position on 3rd party applications quite clear, users would never be permitted to install software on the device themselves. Apple releases firmware in an encrypted form to prevent tampering and to protect iTunes purchases, making modification or installation of new apps difficult at best. Apples solution for these 3rd party developers was to treat the iPhone as a web platform, with Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, or “AJAX” providing the needed functionality for anything developers or users would want to use on the phone in the future. Apple expected these AJAX applications to provide users with applications that would have a native look and feel, while still running in the relative protection of the Safari web browser.

However, this proved to be quite limiting, and resourceful iPhone owners eventually found ways to exploit security holes Apple was unaware of to get the device to run 3rd party code. Of course Apple never made any secret of their intent to close security holes, undo hacks, and relock the unlocked phones. Each new firmware update forced users to play the cat and mouse game, iPhone developers would successfully hack into the new firmware, get applications running and even unlock the phone from AT&T, only to have Apple respond by rolling back their efforts with the next version of the iPhone software. Quite literally iPhone owners were forced to hack into their own devices to run the programs they wanted.

All of this attention focused on the iPhone and its security mechanisms out in the open has spawned an entire community focused on opening up the phone and returning it to the control of the owner. Each new firmware released has been successfully hacked to allow the installation of new applications. There can be no question that the people involved in working on the iPhone and devoting large amounts of time to running 3rd party code on the device are extremely talented.

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  • blueskyrocket

    And lets hope Apple keeps the iPhone secure. I, for one don’t want a compromised iPhone

  • steve

    As pointed out to us by a reader, this article originally was worded unclearly so it has been corrected.

  • Richard

    You said: And lets hope Apple keeps the iPhone secure. I, for one donโ€™t want a compromised iPhone

    I say: don’t install any 3rd party applications, and you will be secure. If you install anything else, pay attention. ๐Ÿ™‚