Last month, a developer called Axi0mx released an Iphone crack called Checkm8, which attacks a defect in the Ios bootrom, a low-level piece of code that has not been successfully attacked since 2010. The bootrom is read-only, making its defects effectively unpatchable, short of removing the chip and swapping it for one with more robust code (the attack also works on version 1, 2 and 3 Apple Watches).
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Almost immediately after buying my first iPhone in 2009, I became hooked on jailbreaking. Despite the fact that my iPhone 3GS met all of my mobile computing needs, I couldn't resist the temptation to tweak my user experience: tethering my computer on the go, messing with the color and style of my onscreen keyboard--you name it. If it was available for download via Cydia app, I gave it a spin. Some apps and hacks were worth paying for. Many weren't. I never dabbled in pirated apps, but I could have! That's what was so wonderful about Cydia: it offered the possibility of wandering off the path of what was normally a walled garden.
Sadly, after years of service to the homebrew and jailbreaking community, Cydia is shuttering its store.
Service creator Jay Freeman (aka Saurik) has shut down the Cydia Store citing a combination of costs and security issues. It "loses [him] money" and, when there were multiple staffers, cost him a significant chunk of his "sanity." And while Freeman had already planned to close the store by the end of 2018, he bumped it up a week after learning of a security hole that let let someone buy apps through your account if you were logged in and browsing untrusted app repositories.
The good news is that you’ll still be able to gain access to apps previously purchased in the Cydia store – at least for the time being. As sad as it is to see Cydia winding down, this isn’t the end of the road for jailbreaking. Read the rest
Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act bans bypassing "access controls" for copyrighted works -- that is, breaking DRM.
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Every three years, the US Copyright Office lets the public beg for limited exemptions to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which bans bypassing DRM, even in your own property, even for strictly legal reasons.
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For a couple years now, I've been collaborating with EFF to produce a Catalog of Missing Devices: products that do something legal and useful and desirable, but don't exist because to make them, you'd have to break DRM, something US law bans.
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Nintendo's nostalgic instant sellout NES Classic (still available from scalpers) only comes with 30 games and no way to add more: but it only took two months from the announcement date for intrepid hackers to jailbreak the device and come up with a way to load your favorite ROMs, using a USB cable and a PC.
"'Disobedient Electronics' is a zine-oriented publishing project that seeks submissions from industrial designers, electronic artists, hackers and makers that disobey conventions, especially work that is used to highlight injustices, discrimination or abuses of power." Read the rest
3D printing giant 3D Systems has experienced a terrible year and a change in leadership, and seems to be backing away from consumer products, meaning that it's orphaned its Cube home 3D printers. Read the rest
Senator Ron Wyden [D-OR] and Rep. Jared Polis [D-CO] have introduced legislation in the US Senate and House to fix one of the worst computer laws on the US statute books: section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which forbids breaking digital locks, even for lawful purposes. Read the rest
My Wired op-ed, How Laws Restricting Tech Actually Expose Us to Greater Harm, warns that we've learned the wrong lesson from the DRM wars: we've legitimized the idea that we can and should design computers to disobey their owners and hide their operations from them in order to solve our problems (and that we should protect this design decision by making it a felony to disclose flaws in devices, lest these flaws be used to jailbreak them). Read the rest
Any digital text can be read aloud through text-to-speech, granting people with visual impairments the basic human right to read -- unless there's DRM in the way. Read the rest
The Senate has approved a bill (which already passed in the House) that makes it legal for you to unlock the phones you own so you can choose which carrier you use. Read the rest
America's legal prohibition on phone unlocking has inched almost imperceptibly closer to reform, as a watered-down House bill approaches some kind of Senate compromise, that might, in a couple years, decriminalize changing the configuration of a pocket-computer that you own. Read the rest
Sherwin from Public Knowledge writes, "The Copyright Office and the Library of Congress think that copyright law and the DMCA make it illegal to unlock your phone and take it to a new carrier. This is plainly ridiculous: a year ago, 114,000 Americans wrote the White House to tell them that, and the White House agreed. So did the FCC. And, eventually, so did the phone companies, who say they'll work to unlock most consumers' phones for them. But the law has stayed the same. It's still illegal for you, even if you've paid off your entire contract, to take it upon yourself to unlock your own phone." Read the rest
There's a funny paradox in rooting your Android phone. Once you take total control over your phone, some apps refuse to run, because they're trying to do something that treats you as untrusted. Now there's a utility called Rootcloak that lets you tell your rooted phone to lie to apps about whether it is rooted. It's both long overdue and a neat demonstration of what it means to be root on a computer. Read the rest
Elizabeth Stark writes, "We're pleased to announce the Device Freedom Prize: a crowdfunded reward for the first developer(s) who release an open source iOS 7 jailbreak. Providing users the ability to control their devices is crucial in an age where we're increasingly dependent on our mobile phones. An open source jailbreak provides users the capability to install what they want on their own devices, the ability to audit the code they're using to do so, and enables disabled users to more easily use their devices."
"We've assembled a judging panel of awesome folks that care a lot about these issues, including Boing Boing's own Cory Doctorow; Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit; Biella Coleman, Professor and Author of Coding Freedom, and Chris Maury, Accessibility Advocate. Contribute to the prize to help make an open source iOS jailbreak a reality."
Is iOS7 jailbroken yet?
(Thanks, Elizabeth!) Read the rest
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) have introduced a landmark technology bill called The Unlocking Technology Act of 2013 [PDF] that reforms the way our devices our regulated. It fixes a glaring hole in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), changing the rules so that you are allowed to remove restrictions and locks from your devices provided that you don't violate other laws (as it stands, removing a lock, even to do something legal, like installing unapproved software on your iPhone or change carriers, is banned by the DMCA). The bill clarifies that security researchers don't violate the law by publishing information about flaws in the devices we trust and depend upon, and makes it legal to break "lock-out codes" that stop mechanics from fixing cars.
This is a watershed moment in 21st century technology law, and it's desperately needed. Every day that goes by sees us more dependent on devices that are increasingly designed to be as opaque as possible -- devices made by companies whose business-model treats customers as adversaries who undermine profits when they turn to third parties for software, repairs and services. It is only the presence of the terrible rules in the DMCA that makes this business attractive -- without these rules, technology locks would be quickly broken in the marketplace and competition -- as well as transparency -- would thrive. If you want to be sure that the devices that fill your rooms, your pockets -- and increasingly, your body -- are well-behaved and trustworthy, please support this bill. Read the rest