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Killing Apple's iPhone kill-switch

Killing Apple's iPhone kill-switch

Ben Wilson

Last week, iPhone Atlas (with the help of our friend Jonathan Zdziarski) broke news of a kill-switch mechanism that allows Apple to blacklist and remotely disable third-party locations stored on users' private devices. The press response was massive, with less-informed pundits debating the veracity of our claim, and Apple CEO Steve Jobs subsequently confirming the kill-switch's existence.

Zdziarski, author of the book iPhone Open Application Development and an iPhone Forensics manual, who furnished the initial news exclusively to iPhone Atlas, has now posted a follow-up to his blog, analyzing Jobs' confirmation:

"Unless, for some reason, they decided to build two separate mechanisms into the iPhone to do this (of which, the other one is invisible), this one likely feeds a 'master' kill switch. Perhaps there is a special setting in the configuration file which can vaporize the app all together. Of course, this is just speculation, but as I said before, it would be irresponsible to have a blacklist, but only use it to kill GPS applications."

Zdziarski also posted a method for blocking Apple's kill-switch, which requires jailbreaking an iPhone or iPod touch, then adding the following entry into /etc/hosts:

  • iphone-services.apple.com