If you’re into the iOS hacking and development scene, then you’ve probably heard of Comex, a prominent member of the iOS jailbreaking community. While he enjoys keeping his identity at a low profile online, he agreed to be interviewed by Forbes, where he revealed his real name and current life situation. Curious? Read on.
Until today, all we had seen from Comex were his frequent tweets on his Twitter account (@comex) where he was always too careful not to share any personal information, presumably to avoid being tracked down by Apple’s lawyers. Forbes has now managed to get a hold of him and ask some personal questions. In real life, Comex is a 19-year-old living with his parents in Chappaqua, New York, where he periodically takes the iOS community by storm with his newest discoveries. Nicholas Allegra, as he’s called in real life, mostly spends his days finding vulnerabilities in Apple’s code and releasing exploits in the form of tools anyone with basic skills can use. Allegra couldn’t have said it better:
It feels like editing an English paper, […] You just go through and look for errors. I don’t know why I seem to be so effective at it.
If you’re not yet aware, Comex is the author of JailbreakMe, an incredibly easy web-only jailbreaking tool for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, even the iPad 2, which can’t currently be jailbroken using any other method. JailbreakMe, unlike other tools, doesn’t require a computer connection or major knowledge on how iOS operates since it relies on a PDF exploit found in Mobile Safari: just by pointing the browser to JailbreakMe’s website and following the easy on-screen instructions, any device running iOS 4.3.3 can be hacked in a matter of seconds. If you’d like to perform this jailbreak, you can read our comprehensive guide. In just nine days, the tool was used by as many as 1.4 million people, and by about 600,000 since then, once the vulnerability that allowed this easy jailbreak was patched by Apple.
As young as 9, Allegra had taught himself the Visual Basic programming language through online tutorials. While he’s now over twice that age and his work has become a lot more complex, he intends to keep offering his work free of charge, even though he accepts donations.
By the time I took a computer science class in high school, I already knew everything,
Nicholas has expressed his concern for the amount of vulnerabilities present in commercial software, since all exploits can be used for good and for evil. While Allegra uses his knowledge for good, he recognizes that many could take advantage of the same software to cause great harm:
I use the same phone as everyone else, and it’s totally insecure.
Did we mention that this genius is looking for an internship? With this unprecedented exposure, could Apple perhaps grant him that wish like it did with another developer earlier this year?