UPDATE - New update breaks hacked iPhones

Users are reporting that a new update to Apple's iPhone is making previously unlocked iPhones unusable.

The iPhone 1.1.1 update, released Thursday, breaks phones that have been hacked so that they work with providers other than AT&T Inc., the only U.S. provider Apple has allowed to carry its mobile phones.

In recent months, a number of software tools have been developed which allow iPhone users to break free of Apple's AT&T-only restriction, but Apple has said that it would fight any attempts to unlock the iPhone. Earlier this week the company released a warning that unlocked iPhones "will likely result in the modified iPhone becoming permanently inoperable when a future Apple-supplied iPhone software update is installed."

Shortly after the Thursday update was released, users of unlocked iPhones began reporting problems.

Security researcher Tom Ferris said the new software disabled a phone that had been unlocked using the open-source anySIM software in order to work on T-Mobile USA's wireless network. After the update, the iPhone was stuck with an error message and apparently unusable. "It kept saying 'unsupported SIM card,' even with the AT&T SIM card in it," he said. "You can turn the phone off or on, but we just can't figure out how to get past this 'SIM card not supported'," he said.

SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) cards contain account information and are used to authenticate devices on certain types of mobile networks. Unlocked iPhones can use SIM cards from non-AT&T networks.

Others were reporting similar problems on Thursday.

The update also appears to disable the 'Jailbreak' hack which allows users to install unsupported software on the iPhone, Ferris said. After the 1.1.1 patch was installed it wiped out all of the third-party applications he had installed on a second iPhone, he said.

The new software is Apple's biggest iPhone update to date, and it fixes a number of security flaws in the mobile phone's browser, mail client and Bluetooth networking server.

The majority of the flaws do not appear to be critical, but the update fixes a larger number of bugs than the first iPhone update, released July 31.

Hackers have said that the iPhone's browser and mail clients are the most likely sources of software flaws and this release bears that out. Apple fixed seven flaws in the Safari browser, two in the iPhone's mail client and one Bluetooth bug with the release.

The Bluetooth flaw could be the most serious -- Apple said that it could allow an attacker to run unauthorized code on the iPhone -- but because Bluetooth works over a range of just a few feet, the attacker would have to be standing near the victim for any exploit to work, said Andrew Storms, director of security operations with nCircle Network Security Inc.

Noted hacker HD Moore agreed that the Bluetooth flaw was serious. "The only bad issue here is the Bluetooth [flaw]," he said via e-mail. "I will start working on this tonight."

Though there may be some technical limitations to what an attacker could do by exploiting this bug, it "could be a nasty remote exploit," he added.

Earlier this week, Moore added iPhone hacking capabilities to the Metasploit hacking tool that he develops.

The patch also fixes some cross-site scripting and JavaScript flaws in the browser that could also be serious, Storms said via instant message. These flaws could be exploited to make the browser run unauthorized JavaScript code, he said.

Mobile phone users typically cannot update their own software, but Apple introduced this capability in the iPhone, which uses the update mechanism in the phone's iTunes music player.

iTunes checks for these updates once per week, so it may take up to seven days for all iPhone users to see these updates. Apple advises users to install the update immediately.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?