For most people, not having a cell phone is unimaginable and without one we feel disconnected from the world. The leading device that helps us survive and navigate through this current hi-tech world is the Apple iPhone. With features like 3G network capability and remote database access it offers full computer functionality in the palm of a hand. Besides voice calls and text messages, the iPhone allows for full web browsing, email, and allows the installation of applications to further enhance usability through its own AppStore. But what if one wanted to push the iPhone’s capabilities beyond the limit of what Apple is willing to provide? The answer can be found in our other world, the cyber-world.
In this micro-study, I will use tools and information available to the public via internet in attempt to hack the iPhone. Currently the iPhone is only sold to subscribers of the AT&T telecommunication service provider and all applications and updates are installed using Apple’s iTunes software. Using various resources I will focus the two main issues which have put Apple and the iPhone user community into the limelight. First, the “unlocking” of the iPhone, which bypasses the iTunes activations process and allows the device to be used on any SIM (Subscriber Information Module) card cellular phone service provider other than AT&T, in this micro-study I will be using a T-Mobile SIM card. Second, I will attempt to “jailbreak” the device, which will allow me to install third-party applications through underground sources and not directly from Apple. As I attempt to hack the iPhone, I will compare drawbacks and benefits of hacking methods, ease of use, and verify Apple’s claims on affecting functionality and possible damages.
To begin with I have obtained an Apple iPhone, which has not been activated and unaltered (see Figure 1). Although it is not illegal to unlock a device, the five year exclusivity contract held by Apple and AT&T prohibits the device from being offered by other cellular service provider (Vogelstein). According to Apple, for the phone to be used it must be activated using iTunes. By doing so it transmits the device’s IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number and the ICCID (Integrated Circuit Card ID) serial number of the SIM card provided by AT&T, to Apple’s database to be signed electronically. This then gets sent back to the iPhone and activates the device allowing it to connect to the service provider (DevWiki). By inserting a T-Mobile SIM card, the iPhone does not recognize the T-Mobile SIM card (see Figure 1) and “No SIM” can be seen in the upper left hand corner where AT&T would be displayed.
In order to unlock the iPhone, both hardware and software options are available. The first methods used by hackers like George Hotz, involved manipulating encoded software already provided by Apple and takes a considerable amount of time. In his interview at Associated Press, Hotz reportedly spent...