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Apple opens Macbook front in iPhone jailbreak war

OK, we're baffled

Application security programs and practises

Apple appears to have taken its campaign against iPhone modders to a baffling new level, tweaking its new MacBooks and MacBook Pros to disable a popular software tool used to jailbreak the handset.

According to discussion groups here and here, iPhone and iPod Touch users who have unlocked their devices using the Pwnage Tool are unable get their new MacBooks to recognize the devices. Instead their all-aluminum machines display an error message saying "An iPod has been detected, but it could not be identified properly."

A video of the error is available here.

Oddly, other types of Macs and Windows machines recognize the modded devices just fine.

The quirk comes as hackers with the iPhone Dev Team cracked the device's latest firmware version.

In so doing, they have kept alive the cat-and-mouse game that started just hours after the iPhone's debut in June 2007. The game looks a little like this: hackers break the device free of Apple's iron-fisted grip, and Apple retorts with a firmware update that restores its control. Repeat ad infinitum.

It's hard to know what to make of the strange behavior being reported with new MacBooks. It would come as no surprise if Steve Jobs had decided to thwart once and for all the jailbreaking of his beloved iPhone. But if so, why not on all platforms - or at least on all Macs? (Then again, it's possible the error messages are the result of a bug.)

We've heard unconfirmed reports of new iTouches with hardware changes that prevent them from working with another widely used unlocking program called WinPwn. It's still too early to say, but these may be the opening volleys in Cupertino's final assault on those who dare to unlock their devices and use them as they see fit. ®

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