updated 09:35 am EDT, Wed July 29, 2009
Apple fights EFF on iPhone
Offering sanction to iPhone jailbreaking would open the door to "potentially catastrophic" network attacks, Apple suggests. The company recently submitted a filing to the US Copyright Office, contesting a motion by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to make jailbreaking legally accepted. Jailbreaking is already widely practiced around the world, but potentially at risk from the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which presently states that "no person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title."
Apple has profited substantially from a closed iPhone, which encourages use of the App Store, while deterring the adoption of unofficial carriers with which Apple does not have a subsidy agreement. The company says it is concerned about the security implications of jailbroken iPhones however, which it claims could be used to disable entire cellphone towers. A determined hacker could alter an iPhone's baseband processor and attempt to crash a tower, according to the USCO filing, using techniques such as denial of service attacks.
EFF attorney Fred von Lohmann has responded by calling the warning hyperbole, noting that "nothing like that has ever happened." He observes that approximately 1 million jailbroken phones are already in use, and that by Apple's definition, phones based on the open-source Google Android platform should be inherently dangerous. Celltower attacks are "more FUD [fear uncertainty and doubt] than truth," says von Lohmann.
Apple has also insisted that jailbreaking could be exploited by drug dealers, who might hack chip identification numbers to make anonymous calls.