Andy Greenberg at Forbes has an discovered the real world identity of Comex, the hacker who’s annual JailBreakMe code has three times pierced Steve Jobs’s side. After some “poking around” Twitter, Facebook, and the Brown University Directory, Mr. Greenberg says the stealth hacker is 19-year-old Brown student Nicholas Allegra, who is living with his parents in Chappaqua, New York and has been on leave and in search of an internship since the winter.
Perhaps Mr. Allegra’s low-profile is the reason he’s still searching in search of employ and not, say, millions in venture financing (is an idea even necessary these days? we forget) or gig as a hacker-in-residence at some forward-thinking VC firm.
Under the pseudonym Comex, Mr. Allegra was responsible for both summer releases of JailBreakMe, a piece of code that Forbes says, “allows millions of users to strip away in seconds the ultra-strict security measures Apple has placed on its iPhones and iPads, devices that account for more than half the company’s $100 billion in revenues.” The fact that Apple scrambled to put out a patch for last month’s JailbreakMe 3 release in just nine days and blocks JailbreakMe.com on in-store Wifi shows how seriously they’re taking the kid who can crumble the wall around their garden.
But even Mr. Allegra is befuddled by his precociousness at rendering layers of software restrictions defenseless with a single code:
“It feels like editing an English paper,” Allegra says simply, his voice croaking as if he just woke up, though we’re speaking at 9:30 pm. “You just go through and look for errors. I don’t know why I seem to be so effective at it.”
Modesty aside, consider the additional hurdles Mr. Jobs forced Comex to jump over:
“After Allegra released JailbreakMe 2 last year, Apple upped its game another notch, randomizing the location of code in memory so that hackers can’t even locate commands to hijack them. That’s like requiring an attacker to assemble a note out of a random magazine he’s never read before, in the dark.”
Mr. Allegra still says he considers himself an Apple “fanboy” and sees Android’s open system as the “enemy.” If Mr. Jobs doesn’t snatch him up, may we make a humble plea for Betabeat? We’re in New York and we’d be happy to meet your folks.