New patent application could allow Apple to brick jailbroken iPhones

New patent application could allow Apple to brick jailbroken iPhones

Summary: A troubling patent application published by Apple and uncovered by CNet could allow the company to restrict the functions of devices that have been jailbroken or unlocked.

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TOPICS: Apple, Legal
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ZDNet's own Sam Diaz posted a blog about a troubling application published by Apple via the U.S. Patent and Trade Office. A CNET post unearthed a doozy of a patent that could allow Apple to restrict the functions of devices that have been jailbroken or unlocked.

The patent application titled "Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device" was filed in February 2009 and published last week. It details security measures that automatically protect devices from thieves and other "unauthorized users."

Hmmm.

From CNET:

Unauthorized users apparently applies to those who engage in jailbreaking, which allows devices to run apps not approved by the company producing the operating system–such as Apple, the main target of such bypasses. The application, which was filed in February 2009 and published Thursday, describes measures to identify “particular activities that may indicate suspicious behavior,” so that “safety measures” can be taken to restrict the device’s functions. Those activities include the “hacking, jailbreaking, unlocking, or removal of a SIM card,” according to the application. Apple also intends to send warnings to owners via e-mail or text message when such activity is detected.

While the security ramifications are tantelizing, including being able to identify an authorized user by their "photograph, recording, or heartbeat" it gets a little creepy to think that my phone could be eavesdropping on my voice pattern, let alone my heartbeat.

Apple's sure to say that patent would simply be another layer of security that will keep your private data out of the hand of someone that finds your phone in a bar... but the blogosphere is getting into a tizzy that Apple could use the patent -- if granted -- to brick an iPhone that's been jailbroken or unlocked.

I'm with Sam on this one: an adult that purchases an iPhone should be entitled to run whatever software they want on it. Period, end of story.

Are Apple's intentions pure on this one? Or is Cupertino so paranoid about protecting the App Store ecosystem that it would resort to bricking jailbroken and unlocked iPhones?

Topics: Apple, Legal

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17 comments
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  • This tech might prove very useful...

    to, well I don't know, maybe hospitals and such to be sure their data and devices are only being accessed by authorized personnel. See, I don't even have half the imagination of you guys and I thought of a perfectly legit use for this.


    Let the tizzy continue ;)
    oncall
    • RE: New patent application could allow Apple to brick jailbroken iPhones

      @oncall That's fine - and a use I agree with but my thing is what is to stop Apple from using that patent to enforce their views on jailbreaking by bricking an iPhone a consumer jailbroke rather than an iPhone used in an enterprise environment?
      athynz
      • athynz??? Really??? Again???

        <i>@athynz said, "what is to stop Apple from using that patent to enforce their views on jailbreaking by bricking an iPhone a consumer jailbroke rather than an iPhone used in an enterprise environment?"</i><br><br>OK.. This paranoid stupidity has got to stop!!! <br><br>A) Jailbreaking is legal (granted its also extremely stupid), if Apple was to use this to brick consumer phones on purpose, it would leave them open massive class action lawsuits... Apple doesn't strike me as being that incredibly stupid...<br><br>B) Do you morons have any idea how much it would cost to staff a center of people to admin security for consumer i-devices??? (Or do you think Apple has perfected the AI and that it will eventually grow and become Apple/Skynet and launch an army of robots to kill all humans and in the future, only Apple robots will walk the earth).. Friggin morons... I swear...
        i8thecat
      • LOL

        @i8thecat

        I know, amazing isn't it? Its some kind of "I must be important to somebody" thing going on here. Paranoid with delusions of grandeur maybe. Like Apple REALLY cares about casual jailbreakers? Don't think so. Casual jailbreakers are only important to Apple in that they are exploiting a security flaw in iOS that Apple must repair. So when the patch comes out fixing the flaw they scream "Apple is out to get me!!" No, Apple is out to patch their security hole. If you want your iPhone to remain jailbroken, don't download the friggin patch. Apple is not incredibly stupid that they would invite a mountain of lawsuits and consumers are not incredibly stupid that they would willingly allow Apple to intrude upon their privacy to such an extent, despite fantasies to the contrary.
        oncall
      • RE: New patent application could allow Apple to brick jailbroken iPhones

        @i8thecat and oncall

        Fine, have it YOUR way... sure there is NOTHING behind this that would concern casual jailbreakers... sure, right, and Apple did NOT spend a lot of time and money trying to make jailbreaking illegal... methings you two need to loosen your grip on the Steve Job's effigies you have and wake up.

        But I hope you are right... I hope that this is just for enterprise and government IT... but we'll see down the road, won't we?

        But what the heck, just to irritate you more i8thecat... because I can:

        [b]OK.. This paranoid stupidity has got to stop!!![/b]

        I'll grant YOUR stupidity has to stop... [b]

        A) Jailbreaking is legal (granted its also extremely stupid), if Apple was to use this to brick consumer phones on purpose, it would leave them open massive class action lawsuits... Apple doesn't strike me as being that incredibly stupid...[/b]

        And sure, they could not use this patent as a way to "sidestep" the ruling - which could be reviewed in 3 years and possibly make this a moot point as the ruling could possibly go Apple's way during a review and amke this applicable to consumer devices as well. And what is to stop them from bricking consumer devices "accidentally" as an example? I'm not saying they would but I'm not saying they won't either.[b]

        B) Do you morons have any idea how much it would cost to staff a center of people to admin security for consumer i-devices??? (Or do you think Apple has perfected the AI and that it will eventually grow and become Apple/Skynet and launch an army of robots to kill all humans and in the future, only Apple robots will walk the earth).. Friggin morons... I swear... [/b]

        Heya doucebag here's an idea - you know they could "automate" the whole thing now... you know set up parameters to identify an iDevice running a stock iOS and "flag" any device not running a stock iOS and either send a brick command independently or escalate the issue to a live person who could then make the call... but I guess this sort of thing is something you don't quite get... and you call us "morons"? Sure, whatever floats your boat there wee man.
        athynz
  • Apple doesn't need a Patent to implement "brick the jail-broken device"

    A Patent would only give them exclusive rights to the technology. Lack of a Patent would not prevent them from implementing such a feature.
    sismoc
  • RE: New patent application could allow Apple to brick jailbroken iPhones

    I am very mixed on the idea of Jailbreaking. On the one hand I have no issue with you buying your phone and doing anything you want with it. On the other hand, I do not want my network compromised or shut down because there are enough jailbroken phones that push some malicious code into the wireless network. I am not sure it is possible to shut down the wireless network or corrupt is severely, but if it is, then your purchase is jeopardizing mine.
    rabber
  • Gotta love it

    Ya gotta love these Apple fanatics.

    How much abuse will you people put up with from Jobs and Co.?

    You WILL stay under the Jobs thumb or your expensive iDevice will be bricked.

    OK, so now, Apple fans, tell us how it's all for your own good...
    Tim Patterson
    • OH MY GOD!!! AND OH YOUR GOD TOO!!!!

      @Tim Patterson

      EVERYONE!!! Listen to the great prophet Tim Patterson... He spaketh thine thruth!!! APPLE HAS APPLIED FOR A PATENT!!!! It is pure evil... It is eviality... It is evilessence... Admins will be able to beef up security on the i-devices they own!!! OH LORD!!! How could you be soooooo cruel as to let this happen!!!! WE will all suffer the dreaded thumb of jobs!!! RUN!!! HIDE!!! BURY THE CHILDREN!!! FREE THE GOATS!!! Jobs will control the entire world by keeping us in fear...

      Um.. Tim... Just how is it that we are under the thumb of jobs???

      Put your tin foil hat back on Tim... Apple is stealing your thoughts... Right this very moment....

      Talk about paranoid stupidity... LOL... Such a tool.
      i8thecat
      • RE: New patent application could allow Apple to brick jailbroken iPhones

        @i8thecat Yeah Apple applied for a patent that details jailbreaking as a suspicious activity and then allows the "responsible party" to then remotely wipe or brick the iPhone - and the patent NEVER says exactly who is the responsible party.
        athynz
      • Gee athynz... jailbreaking is legal for consumers... or did you forget that

        @athynz<br><br>Your stupidity never ceases to amaze me...<br><br>Lets say you run a fortune 500 company.. BWAHAHAHA!!!... OK.. It'll never happen.. But lets pretend for a moment....<br><br>So you deploy a butt load of iPhones to your employees... Fortunately you have this cool security for all the iPhones that lets you do all sorts of cool stuff.. remote wipe, remote bricking, take and photo w/geotag and upload it to your server, etc... <br><br>Do you get it now doofus??? Oh... Of course you don't... This is athynz after all...<br><br>It's for business control of the devices moron... And will make the iPhone far more attractive for government use... Apple can't use it for consumer devices tard boi, they don't have a legal leg to stand on. Now if you still don't get it, blame your mother for dropping you on yer head a few too many times...
        i8thecat
      • Ahh yes another rebuttal from the rubber room

        @i8thecat <b><br><br>Lets say you run a fortune 500 company.. BWAHAHAHA!!!... OK.. It'll never happen.. But lets pretend for a moment....</b><br><br>And the likelyhood of YOU running a fortune 500 company is even less than my own but I digress, please continue with your... whatever this train wreck is supposed to be. <b><br><br>So you deploy a butt load of iPhones to your employees... Fortunately you have this cool security for all the iPhones that lets you do all sorts of cool stuff.. remote wipe, remote bricking, take and photo w/geotag and upload it to your server, etc...</b><br><br>And this is ALREADY part of the iPhone business integration... as posted on Apple's site:<br><br><a href="http://www.apple.com/iphone/business/integration/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.apple.com/iphone/business/integration/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.apple.com/iphone/business/integration/</a></a><br><br>"<i>Securing your data.<br><br>Device policies, restrictions and strong encryption methods on iPhone provide a layered approach to keeping your information secure. iPhone uses AES 256-bit hardware encryption to protect all data at rest. To further secure mail messages and attachments iPhone uses Data Protection which leverages the unique device passcode to generate the encryption key. And, in the event of a lost or stolen iPhone, all data and settings can be cleared by issuing a remote wipe command from Exchange or a Mobile Device Management server.</i>" So what is the real point of this patent?<b><br><br>Do you get it now doofus??? Oh... Of course you don't... This is athynz after all...<br><br>It's for business control of the devices moron... And will make the iPhone far more attractive for government use... Apple can't use it for consumer devices tard boi, they don't have a legal leg to stand on. Now if you still don't get it, blame your mother for dropping you on yer head a few too many times... </b><br><br>And again I refer you to the above link - <i>supposedly</i> Apple ALREADY has this infrastructure in place to be able to do all of this already WITHOUT this patent. So explain exactly why Apple needs this patent which contains a section specific to jailbreaking?
        athynz
      • jailbreaking is legal

        @i8thecat <br>yeah, jailbreaking is legal for consumers now, there are many news online, and the war between apple technical staff and the Dev-team will last some times. Though apple's patent just make little sense. now as FaceTime and MMS Problem on iPhone 4 caused by Using JailbreakMe are fixed(source: <a href="http://www.ifunia.com/news/fix-facetime-and-mms-problem-on-iphone-4-caused-by-using-jailbreakme/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.ifunia.com/news/fix-facetime-and-mms-problem-on-iphone-4-caused-by-using-jailbreakme/</a> ), more folks will surge up to jailbreak.
        Janet99
  • RE: New patent application could allow Apple to brick jailbroken iPhones

    Way to go Steve, screw over the paying customer
    mrlinux
  • No Surprise Here

    Yes, Apple is trying to maintain complete control over its software and devices. It's either Apple's Way or the Highway. If you find this Totalitarian control over your computing and communication devices offensive, don't buy Apple products - I don't and won't.
    jpr75_z
  • RE: New patent application could allow Apple to brick jailbroken iPhones

    I have several iphones but none are unlocked or jailbroken. However,I feel that once I purchase the item and want to take the chance of messing it up, that should be my choice.
    Jaq
    jaqfrost
  • Including unlocked phones?

    I'm all for protecting the network but I'm concerned if legitimately unlocked = illegal to Apple. Several UK networks sell unlocked iPhones and I'm thinking of getting the (improved?) next version but whoaawh ? tell me more.
    jay.macmaster@...