One of the fun and unusual aspects of hacking a closed device is that it potentially makes the device unusable in the future. All the furor in unlocking the iphone so it can be used on other networks, may wind up in making the iPhone unusable for anything.
Apple came out with an iPhone software update on Thursday that patches 10 security bugs that could enable a hacker to remotely execute malicious code, reveal e-mail credentials or even make a call without the user’s consent. In some cases, however, where the user has tinkered with the guts of the iPhone, the software update has rendered the phone unusable.
The update — iPhone V1.1.1 — patches one bug in Bluetooth, two in the device’s mail service, and seven in its Safari browser. The U.S.-CERT is “strongly encouraging” users to review the advisory and follow best practices in determining what updates should be applied.
The fixes come out amid a lot of brouhaha in the research and hacker communities about software for sale that would enable the smartphone to work on any service provider with a standard GSM SIM card. Just this past Monday, though, Apple warned users that unlocking the programs used to connect the device to cellular networks other than AT&T (NYSE: T)’s causes “irreparable damage.” The company also warned that the modifications would probably cause the iPhone to be inoperable when the updates were released.
It’s not yet clear what the total affect will be from the fixes on unlocked devices, though reports are surfacing online that the update has disabled at least some unlocked iPhones. It’s being reported on Gizmodo that the software update may make unlocked iPhones unusable.
“For those who have “unlocked” their iPhones, there were stories in the press over the last week that a future update would turn the unlocked iPhones into expensive paperweights,” wrote Jim Clausing, a handler with the Internet Storm Center, on their daily blog. “It is unclear at present if this update is the one that does it or not (probably not based on the descriptions of the updates included).”
The story references stories, but no first hand accounts, so it might be a lot about nothing, but a $400 phone is a lot to gamble with…