Apple's iPhone is authorized for use only on AT&T's 3G wireless network, although new code made available on the Web this week is looking to change that. And Apple is responding.
There is a movement afoot to "free" iPhones from their dependence on AT&T's network so the smart phones can be used by customers of other carriers, by running code that "unlocks" the device. This code, called Blacksn0w and made available for free by iPhone hacker George Hotz (known as Geohot), works at the iPhone's operating system level to "jailbreak" the phone from AT&T and reconnect to the user's GSM network of choice. iPhones that have been broken out are also able to load software from various sources, not just the Apps Store.
Besides the obvious lack of control that Apple is experiencing as more and more iPhones are broken out, use of these phones on unauthorized networks -- and running unauthorized applications -- could have negative effects on the users themselves. Users open themselves up to data leaks, malicious code infections, and less reliable service. Imaging these phones transmitting corporate data and the scenario gets bleaker.
And so, Apple is responding. According to a Network World article posted Thursday, Apple is listing a job opening on its Web site for a security manager for the iPhone platform, who would be in charge of secure booting and installation of the iPhone OS, among other things.
While the fact that Apple has authorized only one wireless company to carry iPhone traffic is limiting, and no doubt frustrating, to some users, switching your iPhone to an unauthorized carrier could lead to much more serious problems. This is a better safe than sorry situation.