The crave blog over at CNET news has a great post on a Hanoi entrepreneur’s cell phone service/repair shops, and the brisk business they are doing unlocking 3G iPhones. If this sounds boring, you are probably not familiar with the process necessary to unlock this particular phone:
The technician then extracted the baseband chip, the component that controls the connection between the phone and the mobile network, from the motherboard. (This is a painstaking task as the chip is strongly glued to the phone’s motherboard. A mistake during this process could brick the phone completely.)
Once the chip was extracted, it was Tuan Anh’s turn. He used a chip reader to read information into a file. He then used a Hex editor to remove the locking data from the file, and after that, the chip got reprogrammed with the newly altered file. Now it was no longer programmed to work with only a specific provider.
Pretty hard-core. Once the soldering irons come out, you have left the Mall kiosks behind…
Hat tip to Perry Metzger and the cryptography list for the link, and the reminder that, given proper motivation, people will do unexpected and unauthorized things with technology. Assuming otherwise usually fails.