The hacker group known as Chronic Dev Team has released code that lets any Apple device running the latest iOS firmware to load apps without having to go through the iTunes App Store.
The code, GreenPois0n RC5, works with all Apple devices running iOS 4.2.1: iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. These applications are called "jailbreaks" because they free the iOS device from reliance solely on iTunes and its App Store. Users can download and install iOS programs from anywhere.
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One key characteristic of the new code is that it doesn't require the user to save the iOS Signature Hash blob (usually abbreviated SHSH). This hash is a 128-byte RSA signature that Apple's iTunes uses to verify the firmware on iOS devices. Hackers have figured out how to trick iTunes into verifying an older version of iOS, which often has vulnerabilities that jailbreak code can exploit. Saving the SHSH blob is also necessary to restore the device to an earlier version of the firmware.
By contrast, the current tethered Redsn0w jailbreak does require the SHSH blogs saved for iOS 4.2b3, according to several developer blogs.
Currently, according to the group's Twitter stream, @chronicdevteam, the code is available only on Macs. There's been no indication when Windows or Linux versions will be available. The jailbreak loads initially on the computer; the iOS device is connected to the computer via USB cable, and the rest of the process is almost entirely automatic.
GreenPois0n uses a vulnerability in the iOS boot ROM, uncovered by the Chronic Dev Team. The first release of this jailbreak was delayed last October, as the hackers decided to substitute a different boot ROM vulnerability, one uncovered by hacker George Hotz, known by his online handle Geohot.
The new GreenPois0n is available online, from the site created by Chronic Dev Team. It's also being made available at other Web sites.
The group released a video that others are incorporating in video step-by-step explainers of how to use the jailbreak, including one from RedmondPie.com.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
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This story, "Hackers Free iPhones from App Store" was originally published by Network World.