Hackers are coming out of the woodwork, taking aim at the Apple iPhone. Just this week, three Israeli hackers claimed they unlocked the iPhone, making it possible for iPhone owners to use their shiny new mobile devices without AT&T activation. The Israeli hacker coup follows closely on the heals of a similar story about 17-year-old George Hotz, the New Jersey teen who set iPhone users free from the tethers of AT&T.
Yet another group posting information at iPhoneSimFree.com indicates users can break the iPhone's SIM lock and equip the phone with a SIM card that allows the operation of the phone on competing GSM networks.
In all, five hackers have laid claim to the iPhone-cracking crown since July, leaving AT&T out of the loop despite a five-year exclusive contract with Apple. AT&T could not immediately be reached for comment.
Making Hacking History
Jon Lech Johansen, also known as "DVD Jon," was the first to crack the iPhone, a feat that might go down in history as "iPhone Independence Day." His hack job, which let users do everything on the iPhone but talk, paved the way for future hackers to take the next steps.
It's not just maverick hackers that are giving the iPhone programmers a red face. In July, a group of U.S. security researchers discovered an iPhone flaw that could open the door for malicious hackers to take control of the smartphone remotely.
The researchers at Independent Security Evaluators claimed it took them two weeks to discover a vulnerability and create a proof-of-concept exploit capable of delivering files from an iPhone to a remote attacker.
Security researchers say they are not surprised that the iPhone is garnering so much attention from hackers. Any manufacturer that releases a technology that touts interesting new features should expect a knock at the door, according to Ken Dunham, senior engineer and director of the rapid response team at VeriSign iDefense.
Reviewing Your iAssets
Dunham said he doesn't expect the news to put a dent in iPhone sales, but warned that the impact of iPhone hacks could be much graver in the future.
When new products are widely adopted, important assets are eventually tied to them. Few would have foreseen Internet banking decades ago, for example, yet today the Internet is connected in one way or another to many financial transactions.
"When you look at iPhones, you have to ask what the future is. Will it be doing asset management or have access to important proprietary information? The answer is yes," Dunham said.
"As we see the adoption of this type of technology, security will become a major factor because assets will be at risk," he concluded. "It won't just be hacking for fun or fame. It will be about monetary motives."
Image credit: Product shots by Apple; Artist's concept.