JailBreakMe author Comex conducts Q&A ahead of his Apple internship

Mon, Aug 29, 2011


Last week we reported that Apple had hired famed jailbreaker Comex (real name: Nicholas Allegra) as an intern. Presumably, Apple’s iOS team was tired of having their iOS security handiwork continually hacked/bypassed (with increasing ease no less) by the 19 year old Allegra. Apparently, if you can’t beat em’, hire em’. Hell, Facebook and Microsoft have made similar hires as of late as well.

In a recent interview on Reddit, the teenage Allegra answered a wide ranging number of questions ahead of his upcoming position at Apple (which is about to start) regarding everything from how the jailbreak community will fare in his absence to what motivates him to do what he does. Not surprisingly, he’s decidedly mum about what responsibilities his internship will entail.

Moving along, Allegra writes that he will no longer release iOS exploits to the jailbreak community after his internship with Apple ends and iOS 5 officially drops. As for current exploits and the JailBreakMe website, Allegra says that he’ll hand them over to “MuscleNerd or chpwn or whoever will take care of them.”

One of the more interesting nuggets of information is that Allegra raked in some serious cash with his jailbreaking activities. With JailBreakMe 2.0 he earned $40,000 via donations and another $15,000 with JailBreakMe 3.0. Allegra explains that he’s using the money to help pay for College – which last we heard was Brown.

Please find other excerpts of the interview below:

Q: Why an intern position though? It seems like you could carry a regular position at apple.
How has the core jailbreak dev teams responded to you going to work for apple?

Comex: I don’t know if I’d want to do that- I’ve never had a job before and I don’t know what it’s like- and I intend to go back to college soon.

Mostly congratulations.

The jailbreak community took a huge hit when you left. Do you think the active players can outsmart you now that you’re playing for the other team, or are you Apple’s final solution to their jailbreak problem?

Comex: There are a lot of smart people working for Apple already; maybe I can help, but I doubt I can stop people from finding exploits.

Have you met Steve Jobs?

Comex: I wish.

Can you give any insight on how apple views the Jailbreak communities mods?

Comex: I have no idea.

As a huge open book for them to steal take ideas from.

Comex: I certainly don’t mind. Jailbreak community puts an idea in front of people with a crappy implemenation; Apple polishes it to the point where it can be an OS feature. I don’t know whether Apple actually pays attention to jailbreak apps, but see App Store, copy and paste, multitasking, etc…

What, besides money, made you flip to the other side?

Comex: It’s not about money. A large part of my motivation to jailbreak was always the challenge; the internship will be a new sort of challenge.

Firstly, why did you choose to get involved in specifically the iPhone jailbreaking scene, what was it attracted you to the iPhone?

Comex: I had one… and it was a device that (a) had a lot of functionality, (b) had a nice and flexible UNIX OS, (c) already had an active homebrew community, and (d) was really cool. :p

Secondly, did you always set out to be a hacker or was it just something that interested you and found you had a nack for?

Comex: I never wanted to be a black hat hacker, but I did enjoy hacking (originally SQL injection and crap) as a natural extension of programming.

Finally, in regards to the PDF bug used for the JailbreakMe.com jailbreak, where on earth did you get the brilliant idea for it?

Comex: FreeType was one of the less studied open source components of iOS.

Are you optimistic about the future of the iOS platform? What features are you looking forward to next?

Comex: My personal opinion: it will probably continue to beat the pants off its competitors in performance for a while yet, and Apple’s “take your time but do it right” policy on features will probably continue to make it a pleasure to use. But I’m impatient: other platforms (WebOS) have a lot of fun stuff with no real equivalent in iOS.


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