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Hackers jailbreak T-Mobile's Googlephone

Gaping loophole = easy root access

Security for virtualized datacentres

Hackers have managed to jailbreak T-Mobile's new G1 phone by exploiting a gaping loophole in Android, the open source operating system supplied by Google.

The hack, which was posted to this XDA-Developers forum, is a straight-forward process that allows Linux geeks to gain root access in about one minute. It involves using the widely available PTerminal application to telnet to the device's IP address. Presto, you now have root. Step-by-step instructions are available here.

To be sure, the hack isn't as impressive as the jailbreaking of Apple's highly proprietary iPhone. That effort required a stable of hackers who spent weeks studying ways to chisel through the locks Apple engineers had placed on the device.

But the jailbreaking of the first Android phone is nonetheless significant because it could allow the phone to run in ways that T-Mobile never intended. Because the hack gives complete system access with full read and write functionality, the running of Symbian, Linux, or other alternative OSes is within reach. Other modifications are also possible. One forum participant claims to have the ability to "port apps to native C code for Android."

Other members are discussing the possibility of using the hack to make the G1 and forthcoming Android phones act as a Wi-Fi router or to enable Bluetooth profiles.

A word of warning: the hack has the potential to turn the G1 into a brick. As reported here, changes to the /system directory can not be undone by a hard reset.

A Google spokesman said the company plans to distribute a patch that will close the loophole. The company also plans to update the open source code base to reflect the changes. ®

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