David Kushner for The New Yorker has written a lengthy and detailed profile on infamous iPhone hacker George Hotz, better known by his online handle “geohot.” If you are unfamiliar with Hotz, he showed off the first unlocked iPhone in the world in 2007, auctioning it off for a then brand new Nissan 350Z sports car and three new iPhones. Yes, a three-fifty-zed. Wow.
In the years to follow, he worked on numerous different jailbreaking methods such as limera1n for the iPhone and iPod touch. Then, in 2011, he landed himself in hot water when he was sued by Sony for hacking the PlayStation 3 gaming system. Following the lawsuit, George Hotz was confirmed to be working for Facebook, but has since left that position and reemerged in the hacking community.
Despite wanting to meet face to face with Steve Jobs, Hotz never heard directly from Jobs. “This is a constant cat-and-mouse game that we play. . . . People will try to break in, and it’s our job to keep them from breaking in,” said Jobs awkwardly when asked about the unlocked iPhone during a press conference.
But another Apple co-founder by the name of Steve Wozniak — yes, the “Woz” — felt quite differently about Hotz and his hacking. “It was like a story out of a movie of someone who solves an incredible mystery,” Wozniak said. “I understand the mind-set of a person who wants to do that, and I don’t think of people like that as criminals. In fact, I think that misbehavior is very strongly correlated with and responsible for creative thought.”
“My whole life is a hack,” Hotz told Kushner one afternoon last June, in Palo Alto, California. He had moved there the previous month. He was now twenty-one, stocky, and scruffy. He wore a gray T-shirt under a gray hoodie, ripped bluejeans, and brown suede moccasins. “I don’t hack because of some ideology,” he added. “I hack because I’m bored.”
“It’s a testosterone thing,” he told Kushner. “It’s competitiveness, but it isn’t necessarily competitiveness with other people. It’s you versus the system. And I don’t mean the system like the government thing, I mean the system like the computer. ‘I’m going to stick it to the computer. I’m going to make it do this!’ And the computer throws up an error like ‘No, I’m not going to do this.’ It’s really a male thing to say, ‘I’m going to make you do this!’”
Kushner goes on to talk about how George Hotz is a white-hat hacker, which is somebody that hacks for good purposes. Hotz claims to be the complete opposite of black-hat hackers such as the group Anonymous, which have revealed an unbelievable amount of personal information to the public and caused other havoc.
At 4:51 A.M. on April 28th, Hotz uploaded a lengthy rant against the PSN hackers. “Running homebrew and exploring security on your devices is cool,” he wrote. “Hacking into someone elses server and stealing databases of user info is not cool. You make the hacking community look bad, even if it is aimed at douches like Sony.” Hotz was pointing out the distinction between white- and black-hat hackers. Still, he knew he had helped loosen a boulder that was now crashing down a hill.
Hotz is not a big fan of lawyers, referring to them as “assholes.” That is why, when invited to talk at Sony’s American headquarters, he casually strolled into the building eating out of a box of Lucky Charms cereal, purposefully dropping marshmallows in the lobby. But, to Hotz’s surprise, he was actually greeted by an exciting and interested team of PlayStation 3 engineers that merely wanted to collaborate with him. And that he did.
The complete story by Kushner spans seven pages and is an interesting read, detailing the life of Hotz from his early days of hacking to the Anonymous and LulzSec debacle that emerged from his lawsuit with Sony. Hotz seems to live a very interesting and perplex lifestyle, and the article doesn’t shy away from providing any specific details. What do you think about George “geohot” Hotz?