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'DVD Jon' beats iPhone activation

Nixes 'phone' in iPhone, turns thing-a-ma-jig into iPod and Wi-Fi-only Net device

July 5, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - A noted Norwegian hacker claimed yesterday to have come up with a way to activate an Apple Inc. iPhone without committing to an AT&T wireless plan.

Jon Lech Johansen, better known as "DVD Jon" for his part in creating and releasing code in 1999 that broke DVD copy protection, has posted a Windows-only work-around he said lets iPhone owners use the device as a widescreen iPod and Internet communicator. The cracked iPhone can't be used as a phone, however.

"I've found a way to activate a brand new unactivated [sic] iPhone without giving any of your money or personal information to AT&T NSA," Johansen said on his "So sue me" blog. "The iPhone does not have phone capability, but the iPod and Wi-Fi work."

On the blog, Johansen posted a link to an 8KB application, several values and offsets that must be entered in the itunes.exe file using a hex editor, and a new host entry that must be added to Windows. Johansen's application apparently spoofs Apple's own activation server.

Several users who left comments on Johansen's blog claimed that the crack had worked for them. "The only problem I have is, the YouTube function is not working," said someone identified as "Guff."

Another user, dubbed "steve," said: "Confirmed the above method works."

Johansen isn't the first to put a hand at hacking the iPhone. At least three other methods of activating the device have been posted on the Internet -- the simplest involves obtaining an AT&T prepaid calling plan by purposefully failing the online credit check -- and one hacker maintained yesterday that it's only a matter of days before someone figures out how to completely crack the iPhone so that it can be used with other wireless carriers. AT&T, which inked a multiyear deal with Apple, is the exclusive carrier in the U.S.

Read more about Security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.



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