Jailbreaking could help terrorists, Apple claims

Apple has claimed that jailbreaking iPhones – that is, altering their software to allow the user to run applications without restrictions – could turn them into tools for deliberately bringing down cellphone networks.

The claims come in a response to a government review which takes place every three years to decide which situations should be exempted from copyright laws. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed a request asking that the act of modifying the iPhone’s software should be deemed legal for people who own a handset.

Because the software is licensed (whereas the handset is sold), Apple maintains that modifying the software is a breach of copyright. It rejects the argument that such behavior is covered by section 117 of the US Copyright Act which allows for situations such as installing software on a computer or making a back-up copy to protect against losing it if the computer is damaged.

The most striking note of its response, however, is the claim that jailbreaking makes it easier to access the baseband processor, the component which connects the handset to the network – in this situation, Apple warns that jailbreaking could modify the software controlling this processor and lead to GPS functions failing.

More seriously, it says jailbreaking could make phones more vulnerable to hackers. As they would be able to access the baseband processor, this could let them change the Exclusive Chip Identification (ECID), the number which identifies the handset to the nearest cellphone tower. Apple claims that this creates a risk of two phones with the same ECID connecting to a tower simultaneously, which could potentially see one user unable to make or receive calls. (PC World questions this claim, noting that iPhones have a secondary identification number built into the SIM.)

According to the filing (PDF link), the consequences could be more serious than inconvenience, Apple says somebody hacking into a jailbroken phone and controlling the baseband processor software might also be able to get round limits on the amount of data the handset can send at once. At best this might allow them to evade data call charges. At worst they could deliberately overload the cellphone tower and crash its operating software

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18 Responses to Jailbreaking could help terrorists, Apple claims

  1. I'm not sure I'd say Apple hates those that think different. Moreso they feel that their ability to maintain stability on everyone's systems requires that they all remain exactly the same. Unfortunately this means that they take a harsh view towards people doing things that make their systems a little differently.

    Try building an Apple computer and selling it. See what happens.

  2. I’m not sure I’d say Apple hates those that think different. Moreso they feel that their ability to maintain stability on everyone’s systems requires that they all remain exactly the same. Unfortunately this means that they take a harsh view towards people doing things that make their systems a little differently.
    Try building an Apple computer and selling it. See what happens.

  3. Apple will need to get over the fact that we're the customer. If I buy a product from anyone it shouldn't matter what I do with it. IMHO, this is why Apple is considered "safe", but safe and practical are synonymous.

  4. Apple will need to get over the fact that we’re the customer. If I buy a product from anyone it shouldn’t matter what I do with it. IMHO, this is why Apple is considered “safe”, but safe and practical are synonymous.

  5. Instead of going against customers that modify the software, Apple should have a more secure system in cell phone towers. I think if they would just cover all exploits on their side and allow users to modify the phone that they bought, everyone would be happy.

    Saying "oh, we could get hacked" is a very lame excuse. Build a secure and reliable network for the iPhone and then let people customize it however they want (without any risk).

  6. Instead of going against customers that modify the software, Apple should have a more secure system in cell phone towers. I think if they would just cover all exploits on their side and allow users to modify the phone that they bought, everyone would be happy.

    Saying “oh, we could get hacked” is a very lame excuse. Build a secure and reliable network for the iPhone and then let people customize it however they want (without any risk).

  7. I wonder how well other cellphones are "protected" ?

    I think its just Apple who wants to stay in control on what their phones is used for…they utilize such a closed way of offering services. Even after purchase ur in a strict environment: iTunes, the iPhone application store, them having to verify, check, scan and confirm every program for the iPhone to make sure it "stays stable"… Im glad there are also more open platforms like Symbian and Android. If they got big bucks to make popular product designs, easier to use OS..then why not spend same amount of time in developing an OS thats easy AND flexible to change???

    Like ppl said before: saying it can be used for hacking only makes it more attractive to do so.

  8. I wonder how well other cellphones are “protected” ?

    I think its just Apple who wants to stay in control on what their phones is used for…they utilize such a closed way of offering services. Even after purchase ur in a strict environment: iTunes, the iPhone application store, them having to verify, check, scan and confirm every program for the iPhone to make sure it “stays stable”… Im glad there are also more open platforms like Symbian and Android. If they got big bucks to make popular product designs, easier to use OS..then why not spend same amount of time in developing an OS thats easy AND flexible to change???

    Like ppl said before: saying it can be used for hacking only makes it more attractive to do so.

  9. Don't you think that they should safeguard against stuff like this during developement?

    How many times do you encounter a "whoops" with some electronic device that you buy, and find that you need to do some soft of "upgrade/security patch"?

    What these developers need to do is utilize "direct programming". Make the application so that it does exactly what it is supposed to do, and leave no loopholes or vulnerabilities.

    I think it all comes down to how fast they are pushing out these new products. Instead of testing them to make sure that they are safe or not vulnerable to manipulation, they just shove them down to the consumers… then try and fix any issues on the fly.

  10. Don’t you think that they should safeguard against stuff like this during developement?
    How many times do you encounter a “whoops” with some electronic device that you buy, and find that you need to do some soft of “upgrade/security patch”?

    What these developers need to do is utilize “direct programming”. Make the application so that it does exactly what it is supposed to do, and leave no loopholes or vulnerabilities.
    I think it all comes down to how fast they are pushing out these new products. Instead of testing them to make sure that they are safe or not vulnerable to manipulation, they just shove them down to the consumers… then try and fix any issues on the fly.

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