Feeds

Android phone auto reverts jailbreaks

T-Mobile firmware rollback squashes modders

Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

A new Android smartphone from T-Mobile ships with hardware that thwarts jailbreakers by automatically restoring modified devices to their original factory state.

The HTC G2, which began shipping on Tuesday, reinstalls the original firmware when it is rebooted, much to the chagrin of would-be jailbreakers trying to root the device so they can run their own software and third-party apps not approved by T-Mobile. While they managed to modify the smartphone, they soon found those changes were undone as soon as they rebooted the device.

The discovery has generated howls of protest from those who believe that people who buy hardware devices ought to be able to use them however they see fit. Apple has long closed jailbreak holes in iOS updates and Texas Instruments lobbed legal threats at hobbyist who posted the cryptographic keys used to modify calculators. Google even has the ability to remotely install or uninstall apps on Android phones.

But HTC seems to have upped the ante with a hardware-based approach to meddlesome users who have the gall – and often the expertise – to shun the self-serving restrictions put in place by device and OS manufacturers.

It's not entirely clear how the devices are able to reset themselves. Blogger Lauren Weinstein speculates the new G2 “is using a firmware rewrite system to replace '/system' mods with the 'official' firmware upon reboot.” Security researcher Jon Oberheide tells Threatpost much the same thing. Both say it's too early to tell if there's a way to defeat the rollback mechanism.

What we can say for now is that the anti-jailbreak capability is sure to offend a core group of Android enthusiasts who are drawn to the mobile OS's open platform, which by definition can be modified by anyone. It's a pity, because there's a lot to like about the device, including its ability to play high def video seamlessly. Unless the jailbreak override can be overridden, consider it a deal breaker. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
ISPs' post-net-neutrality world is built on 'bribes' says Tim Berners-Lee
Father of the worldwide web is extremely peeved over pay-per-packet-type plans
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Turnbull: NBN won't turn your town into Silicon Valley
'People have been brainwashed to believe that their world will be changed forever if they get FTTP'
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.