Reading that headline you might be thinking “Great PaulC, welcome to 2 weeks ago.” BUT, lemme ‘splain.
The new Droids have a new feature called “efuse” that is built into the CPU. Efuse is used to confirm that the kernel on the phone is valid, if its invalid the phone can be bricked. NOW, Motorola DOES use efuse for its latest Android handsets BUT they don’t use the brick feature, they just boot into safe mode. That means that if you install an unauthorized kernel, the phone won’t boot until you replace it with an authorized one.
As you can imagine the interwebs are all a twitter over this, and many pundits have opened up cans of false bravado by the case and said “Ahh, but this is just another small issue that our brave hackers will over come in our fight against tyranny!” And now that the new handsets have been rooted they point and say “SEE! We have overcome!”
Not so fast dingus malingus.
Yes, the new Android handsets from Motorola have been rooted, and that is AWESOME. It took hard work, intelligence, perseverance and a probably a fair amount of caffeine. Now users can install root applications on their phones. Want to wirelessly tether your laptop to your phone? Root your handset and install the software. Done. Right? hmmm…
The problem is that rooting does NOT let you install new kernels, efuse has NOT been defeated, just sidestepped. So if you want to install tethering and get rid of that horrid moto-blur crap and change the font, you can. BUT, if you want to install a new kernel, then you are screwed.
It has been said that efuse uses an encrypted boot loader. That means that motorola uses the private key at the factory to generate a fingerprint for the kernel, and the CPU in your handset uses a public key to verify the fingerprint. Read that again. Yeah, your fucked.
Does that mean that efuse will NEVER be defeated? Nope, but it means that we are still a long way off.
Read this article to find out why you care.