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Jailbreak hole in iOS 4.1 will be hard to close

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Just hours after Apple released iOS 4.1 to great fanfare, hardware hackers found a way to jailbreak devices that run the new operating system. More surprising still, there doesn't appear to be anything Steve Jobs can do to stop them in the near future.

The exploit in the boot ROM of iOS devices was first announced by iPhone Dev-Team member pod2g. It was soon confirmed by other hackers, who said that because the exploit targets such a low-level part of the operating system, Apple won't be able to stop jailbreakers without making significant hardware changes.

That's in stark contrast to previous jailbreak holes, such as the one exploited for weeks on a site called Jailbreakme.com. That hack relied on two software bugs in iOS, allowing Apple engineers to stop the jailbreaking with a simple update. Ironically, an even earlier jailbreak known as the 24kpwn exploit was eliminated by tweaking iPhone 3GS phones to add — you guessed it — the vulnerable boot ROM.

All iPhones, iPod touches, and iPads that have shipped since November contain the same component.

Dev-Team members say there is still work to be done to fine-tune the exploit technique and that would-be jailbreakers are best served by forgoing the update to 4.1 for now. The admonition comes after they called iOS 4.1 a trap designed to prevent future jailbreaking and unlocks. ®

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