Feeds

Android phone auto reverts jailbreaks

T-Mobile firmware rollback squashes modders

Boost IT visibility and business value

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Déjà vu: Virgin Media jacks up broadband prices
Screw copper phone lines, we're UNIQUE, bleats telco
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
EE: STILL Blighty's best mobe network, says 'Frappucino' Moore
Fresh round of network stats fisticuffs possibly on the cards here
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
What's the nature of your emergency, Vodafone?
Oh, you've dialled the wrong number for ad fibs, rules ASA
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.