Geeks furiously trying to unlock the iPhone

Posted by Humphrey Cheung

Los Angeles (CA) – Hardware and software geeks are furiously trying to unlock Apple’s iPhone by crack the phone’s firmware and activation process.  The majority of the hackers are congregating on the iPhone Dev Wiki and Hackint0sh websites, while another group is trading tips on the mIRC chat rooms.  Some are predicting that the crack will happen in the next few days and there has already been significant progress made.

Unless you’ve been stuck in a cave with Bin Laden the last few weeks, you should know that the Apple iPhone was released last Friday.  The phone is locked to AT&T’s network and putting another carrier’s SIM card only results in an error.  Unlocking the phone would allow the user to conceivably roam around with another carrier, but they would either have to continue paying AT&T’s monthly charge or eat an approximately $175 early cancellation penalty.

Now the interesting thing is that there is no penalty for canceling within the first thirty days, so this is essentially a race against time.  If the hackers break the firmware with the month, you could see a mass exodus of AT&T subscribers to other networks.

But there is another race of time that other news sites haven’t picked up on.  Two of the most popular hacker conventions, Black Hat and Defcon, will start in less than a month.  Whoever cracks the iPhone would surely get immense admiration or “street cred” with fellow hackers.  So far there are no scheduled talks about iPhone hacking, but that could definitely change in the next few days.

Hackers have already downloaded the iPhone’s firmware and operating system from the official Apple iPhone OS restore image which is approximately 93 MB.  The image contains several folders of files and the interesting stuff is protected with 128-bit AES encryption.  Since that type of encryption can’t be easily brute forced, hackers are trying to find a hidden key somewhere in the unencrypted files and through the iTunes activation data stream.

At this time both the iPhone Dev Wiki and Hackint0sh sites are being overloaded with traffic and are down.