How to iPhone sans AT&T (and incompetent terrorists)

It's Thursday's IT Blogwatch, in which we learn four ways to activate an iPhone without an AT&T contract. Not to mention the British former bomb-disposal operator, calling their recent car bombers, "Incompetent clowns"...

Gregg Keizer reports:

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 workaround 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.


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.


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 multi-year deal with Apple, is the exclusive carrier in the U.S. [read more]

DVD Jon calls it, "iPhone Independence Day":

I’ve found a way to activate a brand new unactivated iPhone without giving any of your money or personal information to AT&T NSA. [read more]

The crew summarize three other methods on their wiki:

Activating an iPhone via AT&T Loophole: Originally posted at by Seth Fogie ...

Activating an iPhone using another iPhone: Originally posted at The iPhone Blog and stolen without credit by Gizmodo ...

Activation with a Pre-paid-Plan: Originally posted at TUAW ...
[no wiki link, as requested by]

But HouseArrest420 is confused:

Why would you pay that much money for a PDA, when you can get other devies whose only purpose it to be a PDA for less? [read more]

To which, appleguru replies:

It's not just a PDA. It's a SWEET solid state iPod... In fact, it;s currently the only flash based iPod that can play videos; and it has a kickass screen and touch interface to boot... the iPhone is apple's best ipod to date. [read more]

In case you're worried, MCSEBear points out the legalities:

Unlocking a Cell Phone is LEGAL ... no matter what Apple or AT&T think about it. They can't sue DVD Jon for breaking their bull**** attempts to control hardware that they have sold. The purchaser can do what they want with their own phone
... From Ars Technia -- November 24, 2006 [read more]

In any case, russ1337 feels it's also morally justified:

I personally think it is fair that a telco wants you to sign up for a 2 year contract when they give you a subsidized phone, especially when they want to give you an expensive phone at (what appears to be) a bargain. What I think is a little unfair is paying full price for the device and being locked in for 2 years to a company that appears is not subsidizing the phone. AT&T must have wanted the lock-in for them to justify spending money on the extra services the iPhone offers such as video mail, which they would have made money on anyway if they were first to market or offered the best service.

In a truly competitive market the iphone would be free to connect to any telco (and because the phone meets FCC requirements they should not legally be allowed to turn the customer away). Problem is, the Telco's are too accustomed to locking down their services and features and couldn't bear the customer having a choice. [read more]

Meanwhile, arivanov still wants it as a phone, just not on AT&T's network:

This does not remove the SIM lock though. If a hack comes out to unlock the SIM lock these two will make a total unlock possible. Anything else aside, this allows you to use the iPhone for something without registering for 2 years contract while you are waiting for the second hack.

The latter is only a matter of time, after all you do not expect a device with a general purpose OS where everything runs as root to last long, do you? [read more]

As does K8Fan:

The question is if it will have web access via the carrier's data network...and if it would be any faster than AT&Ts EDGE system. The real tragedy would be losing the very cool "Visual Voice-mail". [read more]

Buffer overflow:

Around the Net Around Computerworld Previously in IT Blogwatch

And finally... A British former bomb-disposal operator calls the recent car bombers, "Exceptionally incompetent ... clowns ... jokers ... idiots ... pathetic"

Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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