Feeds

New tool jailbreaks Microsoft Surface slabs in 20 SECONDS

Bam! Run any desktop app. Pow! Samsung kills Win 8 tab

Security for virtualized datacentres

Microsoft was quick to brush off the debugging hack that allows locked-down Windows RT Surface slabs to run any unauthorised desktop software. But now the exploit has been packaged into a slick jailbreaking tool that can unlock a Redmond fondleslab in seconds.

A programmer going by the name of Netham45 has released RT Jailbreak Tool v1, a batch file that automates the Windows RT trick first revealed by security researcher C. L. Rokr.

Netham45 reckons you can jailbreak a slab in about 20 seconds just by running the runExploit.bat file on the tablet and pressing a button, although it may ask a few "self-explanatory" questions afterwards.

The hack lets users install and run any desktop software of their choosing on Microsoft's Surface tablet-laptops and any other Windows RT devices. The Redmond giant wanted punters to only use cryptographically signed apps obtained from the official Windows Store, rather than any old program compiled for RT, the ARM port of Windows 8. The jailbreak hack simply disables this security signature check.

Netham45 has published a list of desktop apps recompiled to run on hacked Windows RT devices, here and here.

Rokr's hack required the Windows Debugger with Administrator-level permissions, remotely connected to the tablet to manipulate the device's kernel memory. Specifically, the exploit injects a piece of ARM code that switches off the signature checks and briefly diverts the Windows RT kernel to run these instructions.

The RT Jailbreak tool will not permanently alter the machine, but since it is only changing a kernel variable in RAM, it must be run after rebooting or powering up the tablet if one wishes to continue using any unauthorised software.

It may also void the fondleslab's warranty and, while active, obviously allows any ARM-compatible software to run including malware if it even exists.

Microsoft earlier this week brushed off the Rokr exploit but suggested the vulnerability might be closed in a future release of Windows RT.

In fact, the Redmond giant doesn't even consider it to be a security vulnerability. The company stated: “We applaud the ingenuity of the folks who worked this out and the hard work they did to document it. We’ll not guarantee these approaches will be there in future releases.” ®

Bootnote

Samsung has iced plans for a US launch of its Qualcomm processor-powered Windows RT tablet, blaming confusion among potential customers. Company vice-president Mike Abary told Cnet at CES in Las Vegas this week that there hadn't been a "very clear positioning of what Windows RT meant in the marketplace and what it stood for relative to Windows 8". Samsung bosses think there needs to be some "heavy lifting" and "heavy investment" to educate consumers - an expensive effort that the electronics giant is unwilling to commit to.

Samsung had announced its Windows RT ATIV Tab at the IFA trade show in Berlin in August 2012. The ATIV was Samsung's Windows 8 PC, tablet and Windows Phone 8 range, and was the backwards spelling of vita, meaning "life" in Latin.

At the time, Microsoft vice-president Nick Parker, who oversees Redmond's relationship with computer manufacturers, called Samsung "a highly valued partner" and said "it’s great to see this investment in a global brand for its Windows-based Smart PCs, tablets, and phones". Er.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
NOT OK GOOGLE: Android images can conceal code
It's been fixed, but hordes won't have applied the upgrade
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
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?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.