By Stephen Schenck | March 21, 2011 6:43 PM
If last night’s news of progress into breaking the bootloader security on Motorola smartphones had you salivating at the thought of a new wave of custom ROMs for your Droid, we’ve got some bad news for you: no critical vulnerability is known of in Motorola’s signing process, and the news may have been the work of a hoaxster.
The hope was that derivation of Motorola’s private key would be possible, allowing developers to sign their own work as if it was blessed by Motorola. Such a hack is similar in functionality to the recent efforts which resulted in compromising PlayStation 3 code verification.
Today the web page William “nenolod” Pitcock set up to describe the Motorola hack has been replaced with text announcing that the news was based on an incorrect assumption about how the bootloader functioned, and that the “only chance of getting keys now is to factorize the public keys”. Considering the strength of modern algorithms, that’s tantamount to saying that the private key will never be recovered. That’s not to say that the bootloader is invulnerable, as there still may be unkonwn flaws in its implementation.
While nenolod’s site plays innocent about the news and its retraction, fingers around the internet are pointing at him, charging that this was an intentional hoax. Supposed screenshots of chat logs show nenolod bragging about hooking us suckers with his news. While we can’t verify such info, and it would be all too easy to fake, this angle adds an unfortunate taint to the story. Let’s hope the next step made towards hacking the bootloader comes about under better terms.