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Android Cellphones Handhelds Hardware Hacking Operating Systems Security Build

Motorola Says eFuse Doesn't Permanently Brick Phones 294

Posted by timothy
from the too-little-distinction-for-my-taste dept.
radicalpi writes "Motorola has responded to claims that eFuse is designed to brick your device if you attempt to mod it or install unauthorized bootloaders. Yes, the device will still not operate with unauthorized software, but it will only go into recovery mode until you reinstall the authorized software. According to Motorola: 'If a device attempts to boot with unapproved software, it will go into recovery mode, and can re-boot once approved software is re-installed.'"
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Motorola Says eFuse Doesn't Permanently Brick Phones

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  • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Informative)

    by assassinator42 (844848) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @02:16AM (#32935272)

    If it works like it does on the Xbox 360, signed system images will check how many eFuses have been blown and refuse to boot if it's more than what it's expecting. During an update, an eFuse will blown to prevent downgrading to a previous system image that may have some sort of vulnerability. "Vulnerability" in this case likely meaning something that lets you get root access.
    The eFuses are in the CPU so it's not like you can just bridge something with a wire.
    NOTE: I'm not entirely sure of the specifics with the 360, I think it may be more complicated than simply the number of eFused blown.

  • by mlts (1038732) * on Saturday July 17, 2010 @02:24AM (#32935304)

    This sounds exactly like it is on the CLIQ. In the past, if you were not careful with modding, you will end up with the phone bootlooping until you put the phone in USB recovery mode, and flash a signed SHX file. Now, you can most likely use nandroid and pull back to the last backup.

    This bit people big time when a new radio ROM was available for upgrading, and people upgraded to it with a rooted/custom ROM, one had to reflash (losing root). Of course new ROM fixed the RAMDLD exploit that was used to root the phone in the first place.

    Luckily, on the CLIQ, there was a ROM that had ro.secure set to 0 that was signed by a vendor. This allowed for a recovery image to be flashed, and new ROMS pushed to the phone. Had this not been the case, I'm sure it would have been an uphill battle to get the phone re-rooted, and likely people would have moved on to other platforms and not bothered.

    All and all, this isn't great news, but it is better than having devices be rendered unusable until sent to a Motorola repair depot.

  • by sortius_nod (1080919) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @03:04AM (#32935394) Homepage

    Riddle me this:

    Why are PSPs considered "bricked" when you can get a pandora's battery and "unbrick" them. Perspective has nothing to do with it, if the system is shut down and a user cannot reset it to defaults without the aid of specialist "tools", it's bricked.

    A USB cable is a specialist tool when it comes to mobiles, most users have never, and probably will never, connected their phone to their computer. This concept is alien to most users.

    You talk about perception, get off the high horse and look at things from a user perspective. Bricked is bricked, and there's no interpretation to it.

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @03:55AM (#32935534) Journal
    And nobody forces you to use Windows

    Actually, uhm.. yes they do. My employer does for one.
  • by Kenja (541830) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @04:27AM (#32935620)
    Funny... cause the USB cable is in the box the phone came with.
  • by Graftweed (742763) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @06:17AM (#32935866)

    Just out of curiosity, does anyone know of any android device that's meant by the manufacturer to be tinkered with? No protected bootloaders, read only filesystems, or any other such shenanigans that are meant to make the task of installing custom ROMs as difficult as possible.

    I know the Nexus One is supposed to be very easy to root, and thus developer friendly, but unfortunately it's not available everywhere.

  • by jisatsusha (755173) <sadako.gmail@com> on Saturday July 17, 2010 @07:01AM (#32935958) Homepage

    I thought GPL 3 forbade this kind of activity of preventing firmware changes, it undermines one major point of open source while still exploiting open source code. Maybe that language didn't make it into the final license.

    It does. Android is GPLv2 and Apache 2.0 licensed, therefore that does not apply here.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 17, 2010 @07:01AM (#32935960)

    That's easy. They had the brains to fuck it up, but didn't have the brains to put it back right.

  • by digitalchinky (650880) <dtchky@gmail.com> on Saturday July 17, 2010 @08:07AM (#32936126)

    I don't think you actually even need JTAG. I've borked up many WRT54G's, I think I have pretty much every version kicking around in various places - Just hold a piece of wire on the antenna ground block, then run the other end of it across the flash chip - Some people preferred to short out a specific pin (I forget which one now) but I'd just run the wire over a few until the power light started blinking, TFTP mode, reflash. Never once has this method failed.

  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @08:09PM (#32940052) Homepage

    "Google does own the rights to Android do they not? They can also set the terms for it's license."

    This is a common and unfortunate misconception shared by many people. Android is not owned by Google. It is Open Source and there are 71 companies involved in the Open Handset Alliance [openhandsetalliance.com]. Google is but one of those companies. What is confusing people it that they think Open Source always means GPL, when in fact the Apache2 license is what is used by the Android project [openhandsetalliance.com]. Unfortunately, due to abuse of the mod system combined with Slashdot's complete inability to folllow it's own policy against said abuse, I'm posting at -1 these days, so this post won't even be seen by most of the people who need to see it :-(

  • by Miamicanes (730264) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @09:09PM (#32940288)

    > Um, the contract that you agreed to that allows access to the carriers private data/voice network. Laid down by the same carrier that you are contracted with.

    And, in the United States, if your carrier happens to be Verizon or AT&T, they're subject to the same consent decree that broke up AT&T's monopoly 25 years ago & forced them to allow consumers to own their own phones. At first, it didn't matter much, because all phones were... well... phones. But within a couple of years, phones started to pick up new features, some of which had absolutely nothing to do with being a "phone", and other devices that were never conceived as phones began to acquire the ability to act like phones.

    > These are not standalone devices, and have different risks to whom you have a contract with, thus different rules.

    Newsflash: a hacked DOCSIS3.0 cable modem can cause WAY more service disruption than the most hacked Android phone to have ever existed on planet earth. Yet, by law, you can walk into Best Buy (or some other store) and buy your own anyway, whether Comcast likes it or not. Cable modems are literally radio transmitters (and fairly powerful ones, at that), and their broadcasts share cable with customers over a shockingly large area that makes the area served by a single cell tower look small by comparison.

    If the carriers want that much control and are that concerned about protecting the integrity of their networks, let them get together and define the specs for a mobile network interface that's basically a "black box" wireless network card having the approximate form factor of a thick SD card whose external connectors consist of power, RF, I2C, and ethernet. Then I can buy whatever pocket computer I like, stick their network interface into it, and then users and carriers can peacefully coexist on opposite sides of a well-defined wall of separation.

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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