Through a series of tweets posted last night on his personal account, jailbreak hacker and developer comex, best known for his work on JailbreakMe, has announced that he will be joining Apple as an intern in two weeks. Whilst it’s common practice for Apple to hire interns for a limited period of time – this happens to both designers and developers all the time – this internship is worth noting as comex has been for years the brain behind various jailbreak tools that allowed users to install Cydia, the alternative App Store, on their devices, updating these tools multiple tools in a “cat & mouse” game against Apple’s patches and software updates.
Less than a month ago, Forbes profiled comex as 19-year old Nicholas Allegra on a leave from Brown University, who’s been interested in hacking and coding since the age of nine. Among comex’s most notable accomplishments in the jailbreak community, the latest version of JailbreakMe gained popularity thanks to a simple web-based interface to install Cydia on iOS 4.3 devices including the iPad 2. JailbreakMe 3.0 has been used over a million times, becoming the most successful jailbreak tool every released to the public. The hack used a vulnerability in Apple’s PDF library to run JailbreakMe’s code and install Cydia, a security hole that Apple fixed after 9 days.
In their article, Forbes concluded:
But at least in the case of JailbreakMe 3, Allegra also created a patch for the PDF vulnerability he exploited, allowing users to cover their tracks so that other hackers couldn’t exploit the same bug. In the period before Apple released an official patch, users who had jailbroken their iPads and iPhones were in some sense more secure than those who hadn’t.
A postscript to Apple: Perhaps your security team could use another intern.
It’s not clear whether the security team actually hired comex, but it sure looks like his jailbreak skills attracted Apple’s attention.