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iPhone app blacklist confirmed

iPhone app blacklist confirmed

Jobs has confirmed that the hidden blacklist feature can be used to remotely disable applications Apple deems 'malicious'.

Confirmation as to the existence of a 'kill-switch' feature hidden in the iPhone which allows Apple to remotely disable applications it deems malicious has come from the very top – Steve Jobs himself.

Spotted by CNet's Jonathan Skillings, the admission comes at the bottom of a Wall Street Journal article detailing the phenomenal success of the App Store's first month in business. In the article, Jobs describes the creation of the kill-switch as “high minded,” saying that he hopes “we never have to pull that lever” that would disable select applications installed on any iPhone, but says that it would be “irresponsible not to have a lever like that to pull.

The confirmation as to the existence and intent of the hidden feature – located in the Core Location API, an out-of-the-way place for a simple script to download a file from an Apple webserver containing, at the moment, dummy records indicating a fake application that should be blacklisted – will help to quell the rumours as to the intent of the blacklist. Many had worried that the tool would be used to disable access to any third-party software that wasn't installed via the official App Store, but it appears that Apple is merely planning to protect its users against the possibility of malicious applications being distributed.

Jobs comments also give lie to the rumour that the blacklist existed solely to prevent malicious applications from gaining access to location information provided by the API in which the kill-switch functionality hides – it's clear that this really is a push-to-ban automatic app killer which will prevent listed applications from ever running on an iPhone.

How long it will take the erstwhile iPhone hackers to disable the disabler remains to be seen – as it stands, all iPhones are affected by the blacklist whether 'jailbroken' or not.

Are you hoping to disable the blacklist in your iPhone, or do you trust Apple to only use the feature for good and not for increasing profit margins? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

11 Comments

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liratheal 12th August 2008, 09:05 Quote
Like I said in the comment on the first post about this - I give it a month before the guys behind the jailbreaking software get this covered too.
Tim S 12th August 2008, 09:10 Quote
Every phone has a 'phone home' facility for when the phone gets stolen... I think people are making a mountain out of a molehill for this and 'fixing' it could potentially cause more harm than good.
Orlix 12th August 2008, 09:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by liratheal
Like I said in the comment on the first post about this - I give it a month before the guys behind the jailbreaking software get this covered too.

Do you really think it will take that long?
Paradigm Shifter 12th August 2008, 09:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim S
Every phone has a 'phone home' facility for when the phone gets stolen... I think people are making a mountain out of a molehill for this and 'fixing' it could potentially cause more harm than good.

Every phone should have an IMEI number too, so if stolen it can be reported to the police and disabled. At least, every mobile I've ever owned had one. This seems like an extra layer of security that is completely unnecessary and there more so Apple can try throwing it's weight around, than to serve any actual useful purpose. :(
quack 12th August 2008, 10:10 Quote
What have this blacklist and the IMEI got to do with each other? The hidden blacklist has nothing to do with stolen phones.
wuyanxu 12th August 2008, 10:21 Quote
Installer.app and Cydia.app will probably be the first ones on the list :(
perplekks45 12th August 2008, 11:46 Quote
So what's next? MS release a new revision of the XBox that can get a "IF software.installed = pirated DO start.RedRingOfDeath"?

I can see why they included that, still I think this might be misused by Apple in one way or the other.

Maybe I'm just paranoid.
DXR_13KE 12th August 2008, 12:51 Quote
i see, in the future, a group of hackers hacking the main list and putting all sorts of applications there.
liratheal 12th August 2008, 13:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Orlix
Do you really think it will take that long?

No, but I operate with the "You can turn a big one down, you can't turn a little one up" and "If it's done faster than quoted, everyone's happy" methods of quoting things :B
StephenK 12th August 2008, 13:45 Quote
When Nintendo tried to kill Wii homebrew with that Menu Update 3.3 a while back, didn't they suggest that the reason was to 'protect' Wii users from impaired gameplay caused by non-approved software? So Apple decide that a few non-apple apps could potentially cause conflicts with iphone software which would 'impair' iphone users enjoyment of the phone. BAN BAN BAN!
Firehed 12th August 2008, 14:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim S
Every phone has a 'phone home' facility for when the phone gets stolen... I think people are making a mountain out of a molehill for this and 'fixing' it could potentially cause more harm than good.
I completely agree. People love to blame Apple for doing things that everyone does (but then again, they also get plenty of unfair praise too). People will go from whining about Apple controlling the App Store one day to complaining that they should be pulling crappy/broken apps the next.

Stupid bunch of whiners.
/iPhone owner who wishes bloggers would just stfu and think things through for a change
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