Just a few days ago, the jailbreaking community was taken by surprise when one of its most prominent figure, Comex, joined Apple as an intern. Many have wondered whether he’ll continue developing jailbreaking tools in the future and whether his current ones would be kept.
As most regular readers are likely aware, Comex is the developer of the easiest jailbreaking solution available: JailbreakMe. Using this tool, which works with iOS 4.3.3 and below, any iOS device, including the iPad 2, can be easily jailbroken in a matter of minutes. This is a fully untethered jailbreak that uses a PDF exploit in Mobile Safari to load itself onto any device, requiring no connection to a computer whatsoever.
Now that Comex has crossed over to the white side (or the black side, depending on how you look at things), there’s no doubt that his relationship with the jailbreaking world will change. He will no longer be able to create further jailbreaking tools, as he made it clear in his Q&A over at Reddit. Instead, he will assist Apple at finding exploits, although he believes that others will pick up the slack and develop other tools:
There are a lot of smart people working for Apple already; maybe I can help, but I doubt I can stop people from finding exploits.
As for current tool, JailbreakMe, Comex promises not to modify or take them down. Instead, he’s handing it over to other prominent members of the jailbreaking community who will hopefully continue to develop them:
I’ll hand them over to MuscleNerd or chpwn or whoever will take care of them.
At the beginning of this month, Comex was profiled by Forbes, revealing some of his personal details for his first time, including the fact that he was on leave from University in order to pursue an internship (which he has now obtained). Despite the success he has achieved developing jailbreak tools, which will likely continue throughout his stay at Apple, Comex plans to return to University once the internship is over, even if the Cupertino company offers him a permanent job:
I don’t know if I’d want to do that- I’ve never had a job before and I don’t know what it’s like- and I intend to go back to college soon.
Mostly with congratulations.
Nonetheless, Comex plans to continue jailbreaking his iPhone even though he won’t develop tools personally:
I’ll want to jailbreak my phone, so I hope someone finds them [vulnerabilities]
Here is a snippet from the Q&A:
Did you always set out to be a hacker or was it just something that interested you and found you had a [knack] for?
Comex: I never wanted to be a black hat hacker, but I did enjoy hacking (originally SQL injection and crap) as a natural extension of programming.
Your thoughts on Steve Jobs’ departure?
Comex: Really a shame; I was hoping to meet him some day, and, company direction aside, keynotes won’t be as entertaining without him.
Have you made any money from the jb scene?
Comex: I’ve made a good amount of money through donations, which is mostly being used to help pay for college. JailbreakMe 2.0 was like $40,000; 3.0 was $15,000 (not quite sure why it decreased).
Have you met Steve Jobs?
Comex: I wish.
Can you give any insight on how apple views the Jailbreak communitiesmods?
Comex: I have no idea.
As a huge open book for them to
stealtake ideas from.
Comex: I certainly don’t mind. Jailbreak community puts an idea in front of people with a crappy implemenation; Apple polishes it to the point where it can be an OS feature. I don’t know whether Apple actually pays attention to jailbreak apps, but see App Store, copy and paste, multitasking, etc…
Firstly, why did you choose to get involved in specifically the iPhone jailbreaking scene, what was it attracted you to the iPhone? Secondly, did you always set out to be a hacker or was it just something that interested you and found you had a nack for? Finally, in regards to the PDF bug used for the JailbreakMe.com jailbreak, where on earth did you get the brilliant idea for it?
Comex: I had one… and it was a device that (a) had a lot of functionality, (b) had a nice and flexible UNIX OS, (c) already had an active homebrew community, and (d) was really cool. :p
I never wanted to be a black hat hacker, but I did enjoy hacking (originally SQL injection and crap) as a natural extension of programming.
FreeType was one of the less studied open source components of iOS.
Do you have any regrets?
Comex: I should have worked on these jailbreaks more consistently, and released them more quickly; I’ve had several exploits fixed on me that could have been used in a jailbreak if I was quicker at packaging.
What, besides money, made you flip to the other side?
Comex: It’s not about money. A large part of my motivation to jailbreak was always the challenge; the internship will be a new sort of challenge.
It’s still unclear what the future will look like after this move, but many feel we haven’t heard last from Comex. Yet, he’ll likely work under the extreme secrecy Apple is known for throughout his internship.
As we’ve mentioned before, this is definitely not the first time that such a huge company has hired someone from the jailbreaking community. Geohot for example was snagged by Facebook a while back, and apart from that, jailbreak developer Peter Hajas, the man behind the famous jailbreak tweak MobileNotifier was also hired by Apple, and his most prominent work with Apple? The Notification Center in iOS 5.