iPhone 'jailbreak' prodigy to join Apple as intern

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
"Comex," the hacker responsible for several high-profile jailbreak exploits of Apple's iPhone, revealed Thursday that he will be starting an internship with Apple in early September.



19-year old Nicholas Allegra, better known by his hacker handle "Comex," announced via Twitter plans to start an internship with Apple "the week after next." He gained notoriety last year when, as a member of the iPhone Dev Team, he released a web-based JailbreakMe exploit for the iPhone 4.



Jailbreaking refers to the process of hacking iOS to allowed users to install custom software and tweaks without Apple's permission. Performing a jailbreak can, however, void Apple's warranty for the device.



Allegra made waves again last month when he released an updated version of JailbreakMe for iOS 4.3.3.



According to a profile on him by Forbes earlier this month, Allegra has been on leave from Brown University since last winter while looking for an internship.







The hacker expressed that he's not sure why he has such a knack for circumventing Apple's security measures. ?It feels like editing an English paper,? Allegra said. ?You just go through and look for errors. I don?t know why I seem to be so effective at it.?



Charlie Miller, a former National Security Agency analyst and one of the first people to hack the original iPhone in 2007, was impressed by Allegra's hack. ?I didn?t think anyone would be able to do what he?s done for years,? he said. ?Now it?s been done by some kid we had never even heard of. He?s totally blown me away.?



Security researcher Dino Dai Zovi has compared Allegra's hacking skills to those of government-sponsored "advanced-persistent threat" hackers. "He's probably five years ahead of them," he remarked.



Nicholas Allegra, AKA "Comex" | Credit: Nathanial Welch



Allegra taught himself to program when he was just 9 years old. ?By the time I took a computer science class in high school, I already knew everything,? he said. As a self-professed Apple "fanboy," he confessed that he hacks the iPhone because he likes the challenge.



?I didn?t come out of the same background as the rest of the security community,? he added. ?So to them I seem to have come out of nowhere.?



Last year, the U.S. government approved an exemption that made it legal for iPhone owners to jailbreak and carrier unlock their devices.



Apple's relationship with the jailbreak community has been likened to a game of cat and mouse. The iPhone Dev Team published a post, entitled "The coolest cat," to their blog on Wednesday with an image of the iconic Tom and Jerry cat and mouse cartoon characters and the note "We loved the chase! Good luck, Steve." The well-wishes were addressed to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who announced on Wednesday his resignation as CEO of the company.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 50
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Good on ya, Comex. This is the kind of stuff that will keep the US going through tough times. You still have enough freedom and opportunities to bring the best out of talented people. In some Asian countries this guy would be in jail, or worse, forced to do a PhD. And the SF Bay Area is not the worst place to be...
  • Reply 2 of 50
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Clever kid. The number of unique exploits made into a single user-friendly jailbreak is an astounding effort. I hope Apple puts him on Apple security and hope they are paying him.



    PS: Since when does a jailbreak void the warranty? I've taken jailbroken iPhones into An Apple Store for service on many occasions without incident. I've gotten warranty support with my Mac that has an OptiBay replacing the optical drive.
  • Reply 3 of 50
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post


    ...or worse, forced to do a PhD.



  • Reply 4 of 50
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post


    Good on ya, Comex. This is the kind of stuff that will keep the US going through tough times. You still have enough freedom and opportunities to bring the best out of talented people. In some Asian countries this guy would be in jail, or worse, forced to do a PhD. And the SF Bay Area is not the worst place to be...



    No offence but I don't see how this has anything at all to do with the USA. He's just a smart kid and he's self taught. You're projecting.
  • Reply 5 of 50
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nvidia2008


    ...or worse, forced to do a PhD



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post










  • Reply 6 of 50
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    Clever kid. The number of unique exploits made into a single user-friendly jailbreak is an astounding effort. I hope Apple puts him on Apple security and hope they are paying him.



    PS: Since when does a jailbreak void the warranty? I've taken jailbroken iPhones into An Apple Store for service on many occasions without incident. I've gotten warranty support with my Mac that has an OptiBay replacing the optical drive.



    Apple PR: ?Apple?s goal has always been to insure that our customers have a great experience with their iPhone and we know that jailbreaking can severely degrade the experience. As we?ve said before, the vast majority of customers do not jailbreak their iPhones as this can violate the warranty and can cause the iPhone to become unstable and not work reliably.?



    To be fair, they only say it "can" violate the warranty.
  • Reply 7 of 50
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,483member
    I suppose Apple will pay him to repeatedly jailbreak IOS 5 so they can fix every hole he discovers. But brilliant kids are born every day and they will find new holes that he never spotted.
  • Reply 8 of 50
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    No offence but I don't see how this has anything at all to do with the USA. He's just a smart kid and he's self taught. You're projecting.



    1.

    He's a smart kid ... ie. is in an environment that enable him to explore and expand his talents



    2.

    He's self taught ... ie. is in an environment that enable him to learn while ignoring mainstream teachings



    3.

    He's a hacker responsible for "breaking into" one of the world's most popular products made by one of the worlds largest and most powerful technology companies ... he was not persecuted despite his identity being well known



    4.

    The US Congress has legalised jailbreaking...which might have been or was considered illegal prior to the ruling



    5.

    Despite Apple's protestations of jailbreaking, they hire him



    I don't think I'm projecting when I say the US is one of the countries where the conditions enable all the above to come together. If Americans do not recognise the strengths they still have as a nation, more suffering will ensue.
  • Reply 9 of 50
    nofeernofeer Posts: 2,422member
    Great points AND google can't hire him



    He becomes apples antimissile
  • Reply 10 of 50
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member
    I have no idea what you are writing about (maybe that is a shortcoming of my own), but jail breaking a phone is not possibly very illegal. The United States Congress (you know the ones who pass the laws) has made it legal under the DMCA.







    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post


    A US court has deemed this possibly very illegal activity legal ... after Comex already did a ton of jailbreaking



  • Reply 11 of 50
    Does this mean we won't have jailbreaks anymore?
  • Reply 12 of 50
    jexusjexus Posts: 373member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by NOFEER View Post


    Great points AND google can't hire him



    He becomes apples antimissile



    http://forum.xda-developers.com/ <--- Google will be fine.



    But it is great that Apple is starting to acknowledge talent outside of itself in a community it has long criticized.
  • Reply 13 of 50
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TBell View Post


    I have no idea what you are writing about (maybe that is a shortcoming of my own), but jail breaking a phone is not possibly very illegal. The United States Congress (you know the ones who pass the laws) has made it legal under the DMCA.



    My mistake in saying "US Court". I meant, before the US Congress ruling, jailbreaking was considered illegal by some. Now it is officially legal. But prior to the ruling, Comex was already in action and could have been persecuted. Apple and the US government or other US entities could have unleashed the dogs on him and Saurik, et al. But they didn't.



    I've edited my post above to make it clearer.
  • Reply 14 of 50
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,985member
    Just make sure this kid works with a handler and does not have access to the Internet while working at Apple. He just might release Apple's source code. \
  • Reply 15 of 50
    _rick_v__rick_v_ Posts: 141member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post


    1.

    He's a smart kid ... ie. is in an environment that enable him to explore and expand his talents



    2.

    He's self taught ... ie. is in an environment that enable him to learn while ignoring mainstream teachings



    3.

    He's a hacker responsible for "breaking into" one of the world's most popular products made by one of the worlds largest and most powerful technology companies ... he was not persecuted despite his identity being well known



    4.

    A US court has deemed this possibly very illegal activity legal ... after Comex already did a ton of jailbreaking



    5.

    Despite Apple's protestations of jailbreaking, they hire him



    I don't think I'm projecting when I say the US is one of the countries where the conditions enable all the above to come together. If Americans do not recognise the strengths they still have as a nation, more suffering will ensue.



    So.... you're saying that something like this could've never happened in say... Ireland, or Germany, or Sweden, or Canada?



    I'm as patriotic as the next person, but let's not be naive. It's narrow-minded to think that the U.S. is some magical breeding ground for smart people, when so many well-known famous hackers come from off shores. Most of the tech companies in this country have to recruit from off shore because there simply isn't the talent (or enough talent) right here in this country.
  • Reply 16 of 50
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by _Rick_V_ View Post


    So.... you're saying that something like this could've never happened in say... Ireland, or Germany, or Sweden, or Canada?



    I'm as patriotic as the next person, but let's not be naive. It's narrow-minded to think that the U.S. is some magical breeding ground for smart people, when so many well-known famous hackers come from off shores. Most of the tech companies in this country have to recruit from off shore because there simply isn't the talent (or enough talent) right here in this country.



    For the record, I'm not American, I've only worked there almost decade ago for a few years.



    I'm not saying it couldn't have happened in other Western countries. But at least it still *can* happen in the US.



    As for non-Western countries, it is unlikely to happen... Hackers generally remain underground or have to resort to scamming. Why do you think people from all around the world still come, from Western and non-Western countries, to the US?



    What I'm trying to say is that things are tough in the US right now but certain things are keeping it afloat. Meritocracy, freedom (yes, there still is quite a bit in the US), and companies and people like Apple and Steve Jobs that are willing to take risks by hiring the very people that "attack" them.



    Certainly skilled foreigners coming to the US may reduce employment for US citizens but they can benefit US companies in because they bring talent, enthusiasm and so on. The key is for US companies to disseminate the wealth back into the core of the US (the so called "trickle-down") not let the profits percolate at the top.
  • Reply 17 of 50
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    Just make sure this kid works with a handler and does not have access to the Internet while working at Apple. He just might release Apple's source code. \



    That is a shameful assumption.
  • Reply 18 of 50
    stelligentstelligent Posts: 2,680member
    Brilliant kid. Now that he has infiltrated Apple ...
  • Reply 19 of 50
    rbryanhrbryanh Posts: 263member
    Yesterday's snarling revolutionary is today's smiling bourgeois capitalist.



    After we've worn ourselves out beating them, we find we're still every bit as desperate to be one of them.



    Anyone feel like talking about gay marriage?
  • Reply 20 of 50
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TBell View Post


    I have no idea what you are writing about (maybe that is a shortcoming of my own), but jail breaking a phone is not possibly very illegal. The United States Congress (you know the ones who pass the laws) has made it legal under the DMCA.



    "very illegal activity legal"



    he means that, it was a "very illegal activity" and it was deemed to be a "legal" activity.
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