What do you do if someone actively breaks your product? Sue them? Reward them? George Hotz received both of these reactions from Sony and Google respectively. There have been many infamous techno-crooks over the years, from Kevin Mitnick’s phone phreaking antics to Gary McKinnon’s Pentagon computer system hack.
Look the Other Way
As a 17 year old, Hotz broke the lock that clamped the iPhone to an AT&T account. Hilariously, both Apple and AT&T tried hard to outwardly pretend that nothing untoward had happened, as they desperately battled to plug the holes that Hotz had exploited.
Make Him Pay
Some time later, George turned his attention to the Playstation 3. Intrigued with how it might work, he reverse engineered it and was consequently sued by the device’s manufacturer, Sony. Luckily though, settlement was reached when no future hacking of Sony products was promised.
Give Him a Copper
Perhaps the oddest response from his hacking efforts came when he peeled the lid off Google’s Chrome browser. $150,000 was paid to him by the world-leading company as a thank you for identifying bugs in the system.
Don’t Let Him Get Away
Google were so happy with the “work” that he’d carried out they actually offered him a job. Together with other hackers, he’ll be tasked to hunt down any security vulnerabilities that are currently lurking around the Internet This elite team has been dubbed Project Zero, named after the “zero day” weaknesses that litter the web’s digital landscape.
On the face of it, this is quite a noble project, but any back door into a system might offer alternate routes into other, linked networks. Many of the world’s hacking attempts derive from governmental and corporate sources, so it probably won’t ever become common knowledge. There’d be some interesting discoveries if it did though.