What Happens When You Hack the Droid X?

If the Droid X's U.S. launch had just one pockmark, it was the hoopla that transpired when one Android enthusiast declared the phone would become a brick when hacked.

It all started when My Droid World forum admin p3droid declared that a chip called eFuse was triggered to blow when the Droid X's digitally-signed bootloader is tampered with, rendering the phone unusable. Attempts to run custom ROMs on the phone, such as Cyanogen, would likely produce a Motorola-branded doorstop that only the company could fix. MobileCrunch's Devin Coldewey ran with the story, as did other sites, and a debate ensued on whether the phone does, in fact, have a hardware-killing security feature.

So Engadget cleared the air with Motorola, who said the phone is not rigged to blow, but it does go into "Recovery Mode" when booted with unauthorized software. This is for security reasons, and for meeting carrier, partner and legal requirements, Motorola said. Re-installing Motorola-approved software restores the Droid X to normal.

Okay, great. But I think the debate yesterday was misdirected. The problem is not that the Droid X becomes a brick when hacked, but that it cannot be hacked. While the lack of a phone-killing security feature means hackers are at a greater liberty to tinker, they won't get anywhere. Motorola Milestone, the original Droid's overseas sibling, has the same digitally-signed bootloader, and its security measures haven't been broken yet. There are workarounds for loading custom ROMs on the Milestone, but they are difficult to perform, and there are other drawbacks, as explained by TheUnlockr.

Any tech topic with the word "brick" in it makes for a better headline, but I'd rather see the discussion focus on why Motorola doesn't want its users hacking the Droid X, rather than what nasty things will happen to the phone if they do.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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