Hacking sensation George Hotz, who shot into fame by cracking iPhone, unleashed his wizardry by breaking open the Sony PlayStation 3, and then cut through Sony’s defenses yet again, forcing Sony to move to court to obtain restraining orders preventing him from releasing the latest jailbreak on PS3. The case has since been settled out of court in April 2011.
Hotz burst into the intriguing world of hacking at the age of 17 when he cracked open the iPhone, a device which caught the imagination of the world, and immediately became a pin-up boy attracting rock star fan following.
When he unlocked the iPhone bootloader in August 2008, Apple’s storied device could be used on any network, not just AT&T, its exclusive seller.
And, interestingly, Hotz’ achievement was basically a hardware coup; his modus operandi just involved some soldering and hardware modification. The more experienced hackers who he gave a run for their money later on came up with ways to unlock the iPhone by hacking just the software.
Even as debate raged over ethical and legal aspects of his act, he did laugh all the way to bank.
CertiCell, a cell phone modification company, hired him besides giving away a swanky Nissan 350Z sports car and 3 iPhones as the price of his unlocked iPhone.
IPHONE HACKING ESCAPADES
After the August hacking of the iPhone, he was up to more mischief in October when he unleashed a jailbreak for all iPhones and iPod Touches. The jailbreak was named Blackra1n. This was followed by a series of Blackra1n jailbreaks, including Blackra1n RC2, and Blackra1n RC3 which were aimed at various Apple devices. While Blackra1n RC2 was for helping iPhone 3GS user to jailbreak their iPod touches, Blackra1n RC3 meant to effect a SIM unlock for all iPhones.
Hotz set up a website for limera1n, his jailbreak software, in March 2010. He announced on July 2010 that he was able to jailbreak an iPhone 4 running iOS 4.0 but in the same month he said he was retiring from the business of hacking ‘iDevices’. He said his hacking escapades were rather meant to be distractions and they were not being seen any longer as just fun.
BRUSH WITH SONY PS3
Sony’s uneasy battle with hackers was marked by the announcement of Hotz late 2009 that he was targeting PS3. He said in January 2010 he was able to hack the machine and gain read and write access and released the jailbreak for the public.
He released his jailbreak to public in January 2010, enabling any one to hack into the system using the “OtherOS” function in the system. This forced Sony to withdraw the OtherOS function from the machine which was required for running the hacked code. Sony did this by releasing a PlayStation 3 firmware update which removes the OtherOS function. Sony has since then fortified PS3 with the addition of advanced custom firmware.
He announced in July 2010 that he was abandoning his further attempts to hack the PS3, but resurfaced last week showing demonstrations of running homebrew applications on PS3 firmware 3.55, raising alarm at Sony.
George Francis Hotz was born on October 2, 1989 and grew up in Glen Rock, New Jersey, where he attended the Bergen County Academies, a magnet public high school, according to Wikipedia.
The curly-haired child prodigy who became a teenage hacking sensation, has said he wanted to get into neuroscience, and go ‘hacking the brain’. PC World magazine listed Hotz as one of the top 10 Overachievers under 21 in March 2008.
Here’s what Wikipedia says about his earlier feats:
“Hotz was a finalist at the 2004 ISEF competition in Portland OR with his project “Mapping Robot”. Recognition included interviews on the Today Show and Larry King. Hotz was a finalist at the 2005 ISEF competition, with his project “The Googler”. Continuing with robots, Hotz competed in his school’s highly successful Titanium Knights battlebots team. George also worked on his project, “Neuropilot,” in which he was able to read EEG signals off his head with hardware from the OpenEEG project.
“Hotz competed in the 2007 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, a science competition for high school students, where his project, entitled “I want a Holodeck”, received awards and prizes in several categories. Hotz has received considerable attention in mainstream media, including interviews on the Today Show, Fox, CNN, NBC, CBS, G4, ABC CNBC, and articles in several magazines, newspapers, and websites, including Forbes, and BBC.”
The sudden transition of GeoHotz from the treacherous world of hacking to a regular job with one of the best-known Internet companies of the day has come across as a surprise to many. He has followed in the footsteps of many other celebrated hackers who got hired by technology giants. Hotz, also known as GeoHotz, has joined Facebook and is said to be involved in product development. Hotz’s Facebook page says he has been a software engineer at Facebook since May 9. There have been cases of some hackers being hired by the tech companies they hacked into. And some are hired by firms to torment competition. Earlier, Facebook profile hacker Chris Putnam, iOS hacker Peter Hajas, Twitter hacker Michael Mooney, and Ashley Towns, the creator of the first ever iPhone worm, had all made news after they got into the corporate scene, leaving behind the intriguing world of hacking.
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