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Droid X Self-Destructs If You Try To Mod

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the now-that's-evil dept.

Android 757

An anonymous reader writes with some discouraging news for hack-oriented purchasers of the new Droid X phone: "If the eFuse fails to verify [the firmware information (what we call ROMS), the kernel information, and the bootloader version], then the eFuse receives a command to 'blow the fuse' or 'trip the fuse.' This results in the booting process becoming corrupted, followed by a permanent bricking of the phone. This FailSafe is activated anytime the bootloader is tampered with or any of the above three parts of the phone has been tampered with."

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Worst summary ever (3, Funny)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912758)

Now people's heads will hurt. Great Job!

Re:Worst summary ever (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912850)

I'm all for terseness, but this is ridiculous.

Who cares (3, Insightful)

thren (1667979) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912766)

Someone will find a way around this very quickly

I do, actually... (5, Insightful)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912926)

Sure they will... But I don't appreciate having them try to transform it more into a rental of the device than a sale- and then framing it in as a sale. I'm sure there's other people that'll view it the same way as I.

Sadly, I'm fairly sure Verizon asked Moto to do this- they always seem to find a way to miss the point and try to assert "control" over everything.

Re:Who cares (2, Interesting)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913002)

this is actually damaging to the phone. that is a horrible idea for verizon and will very likely end up with a lawsuit again.

good job verizon/motorola!

It's the principle of the thing and more. (5, Insightful)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913036)

A hardware company actually put a self-destruct mechanism in the phone when you change the software.

A. This will get tripped accidentally, even for naive users, and will cost owners money to fix.
B. This violates the idea of ownership of the device. Motorola figures that they're licensing you parts, not selling. For an "open" OS, this is insane.
C. Once you get around it, unless you can destroy the code, you still have that thing hanging around. A mistake or bad combination later on could trip it -- there's no reason to have to put up with walking through a minefield.

All this translates to "Spread the news, blacklist the phone, send a message to Motorola." Because if this goes on as a "who cares" thing, all Motorola Android phones will have it in future and other companies will follow suit.

This needs to be a black eye for Motorola, they need to notice that, and they need to quickly backpedal.

I do! (1, Interesting)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913126)

I do!

As I've said before the time I'll buy(*) an Android phone is the time when the OS is easily replaceable, preferably with a vanilla version of Android. So I can get the latest version and don't have to buy a new phone which is ridiculous and which also would open it up for all sorts of tweaks and hacks from the community.

I don't need a specialized version if the company behind the Phone don't want to share their code with everyone else in the Android community. However I would expect them to share the drivers atleast ..

A phone which actively try to predict this from happening and just don't cooperate is even much less likely to be bought by me.

I understand I may be one of a small crowd but phones made for me and others like me would offer so much more and be way better than everything else out there. Not letting it happen with an open-source OS is just as stupid as releasing the iPhone with no SDK/third-party applications was.

* I'm not in a hurry but if it will take forever then eventually I will have to get another phone.

Re:I do! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32913198)

As I've said before the time I'll buy(*) an Android phone is the time when the OS is easily replaceable, preferably with a vanilla version of Android. So I can get the latest version and don't have to buy a new phone which is ridiculous and which also would open it up for all sorts of tweaks and hacks from the community.
What about the Nexus One?

Re:Who cares (5, Informative)

kjart (941720) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913166)

Someone will find a way around this very quickly

It's not even clear if this information is real. TFA [mobilecrunch.com] links to a forum post [mydroidworld.com] which doesn't seem to actually contain a source of the information (the OP states it's a mix of "hard information" and "conjecture"). Said forum post then links to the eFUSE wikipedia [wikipedia.org] article, which lists Droid X as having an implementation of eFUSE. However, if you look at the Droid X wikipedia page linked to from there, you'll see the original mobilecrunch.com is what is cited for the eFUSE inclusion bit.

I'm not saying there is something fishy going on, but this could easily not be true.

failes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32912768)

Failes.

iPhone Evil, Android Good (-1, Troll)

VirginMary (123020) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912780)

Oops, wrong way around!

Re:iPhone Evil, Android Good (5, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912840)

In this case it's more a case of "Motorola Evil". Google provides the OS but the manufacturer still integrates it into the device.

My next upgrades isn't until December, but I can already say that Droid X is off the table. Hopefully HTC will have out something new and shiny by then. If not, I'll still go for the Incredible over the X. I've had nothing but trouble from Motorola phones anyways.

Re:iPhone Evil, Android Good (2, Interesting)

rwven (663186) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913034)

You gotta wonder what they perceived the benefit was of putting this "functionality" in place. I can't think of a single thing they gain by doing this...

Re:iPhone Evil, Android Good (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913176)

I was on the fence between the X and Incredible. They both have pretty much the same specs, the X comes with a memory card whereas the Incredible does not, so I was thinking of buying the X, now I have no interest in it. I hope Moto backs off on this and disables it.

Re:iPhone Evil, Android Good (3, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912884)

Well, it's more of a Motorola issue than an Android issue. Just because an operating system is open doesn't mean the corporation that installed it isn't going to be a jackass.

It's not as if there's no precedent for this. There's a certain operating system based upon open source components from Mach, FreeBSD, GNU, and KDE, which is somewhat infamous for being closed [apple.com] . At least you can load and run your own programs onto the Droid X, even if you can't update the operating system to your own version.

Re:iPhone Evil, Android Good (5, Insightful)

aesiamun (862627) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913086)

There's also another OS that is based upon open source components from Mach, FreeBSD, GNU and KDE which allows me to install whatever I want without having to jailbreak, root, break bootloaders, etc...Clicky [apple.com]

Re:iPhone Evil, Android Good (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32913152)

To be fair, OS X doesn't implode if you recompile the bootloader, which is open source under Darwin. You can either download apps for OS X (many free), make your own using Apple-supplied tools (XCode), third-party paid tools (why?), or use free-as-in-speech-and-beer OSS tools.

This can be done in any combination of interfaces, from CLI and X11 to Cocoa and Carbon.

None of this, or even (to make an accurate analogy) installing Windows or Linux on your Mac, is going to make the Mac go boom. In fact, if you buy the system and install the exact same Linux distro as you did on your IBM or Compaq... it'd work.

Re:iPhone Evil, Android Good (1)

Zantac69 (1331461) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912900)

The thing is that everyone expects Apple to be evil, and Motorola has already displayed that they will bend over and take one shining from AT&T and cripple an Android deployment. I guess it was Verizon's (ironic since good phone/OS was one of the big draws to their network) turn to get some Moto...and Moto stuck it to Droid X'ers. Is Google the only one that will let us really have fun with things like the Nexus One?

Re:iPhone Evil, Android Good (1)

aesiamun (862627) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913112)

The Moto Milestone has a locked and encrypted boot loader as well and that was never on Verizon. It was an unlocked GSM phone.

I don't think VZW is behind this...

Re:iPhone Evil, Android Good (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912982)

All evil but for real Linux phones or a Dell streak under your control.
From evil telcos to developers to drm to legal reach down, avoid them all unless for work.

Re:iPhone Evil, Android Good (2, Insightful)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913196)

Apple evil, Google good.

And it still holds.

Google can't be responsible for everyone else though.

(But they for sure could restrict usage for more open phones by pushing whatever demands they wanted. The risk for them of course would be that phone companies may decide to pick another product and hence Google would lose the data of their consumers. In a perfect world I would had preferred a "open" phone as far as the OS goes directly from Google, which is sure to run future versions. Stock everything would be fine. I trust them much more than any third-party provider.)

Logic enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32912786)

At least it makes sense, unlike Nintendo does

'cause THEY can brick their consoles, legit

Yes, and... (0, Flamebait)

Minwee (522556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912794)

An eFuse is... what exactly? Why should I care about it? How is it connected to a "Droid X", whatever that is?

Really, what's the purpose of an article summary if not to summarize the important bits of the article? If this keeps up I'm going to need more red pens.

Re:Yes, and... (0, Flamebait)

jra (5600) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912846)

The Droid X is a new model of Android phone.

An eFuse is a, well, a *fuse*, dumbass; it *blows* when it's told to, and -- like all fuses -- it cannot then be reset.

If You Didn't Get It, It Wasn't For You.

And this is pretty E-vil on Moto's part.

Re:Yes, and... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913090)

The point was it was a bad summary.

Yes, you can find all this information out by reading the article, but if you must do that why have a summary?

Considering the summary could be written "Motorola's 'Droid X' Android based mobile phone has been fitted with an 'eFuse' which will blow if the phone has been tampered with, bricking the phone." which is more terse and contains more information, why not provide the information?

Re:Yes, and... (0)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912848)

It's pretty old technology, it's basically a transistor that can self-destruct.

Re:Yes, and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32912872)

You may now hand in your geek card.

Re:Yes, and... (2, Informative)

Superken7 (893292) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912984)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EFUSE [wikipedia.org] "By utilizing an eFUSE (or more realistically, a number of individual eFUSEs), a chip manufacturer can allow for the circuits on a chip to change while it is in operation."

I understand how someone can decide not to officially support modding since that could translate into more costs, but actually investing time and money to prevent modding?
Seriously, whats wrong with them? They are supposedly part of the Open Handset Alliance.

Hey moto, most people actually want to run other andriod "mods" (such as cyanogenmod) in order to have the latest and greatest android version, since you guys are obviously too uninterested in keeping your own phones updated. Most of them don't actually care about platform development.

I hope you realize you should actually support - at least not make it difficult to - flash alternate operating systems. Providing an unlocked bootloader is a big first step which should be almost cost-free to do and can IMHO only bring you benefits. (Ever heard of the Nexus One's "oem unlock" command?)

Re:Yes, and... (2, Funny)

Spad (470073) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913006)

It's Slashdot's new plan to make people RTFA by picking a random paragraph to quote out of context in the summary, thus forcing them to visit TFA in order to work out what it's about.

Not that it's worked in the past, of course...

This is great news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32912812)

This simplifies my phone shopping -- I now know what *not* to buy, under any circumstances. Nice going, Droid X team!

Verizon 1 ;; AT&T 0 (1)

bigfootchick (1855082) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912814)

Verizon has just scored a goal against AT&T. It's not yet halftime folks!

Sounds like (0, Troll)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912816)

A great excuse to stay away from Droid.

Re:Sounds like (1)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912882)

A great excuse to stay away from Motorola. It's not the OS, it's the hardware, and only Motorola (that we know of) is doing this crap.

Re:Sounds like (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32913142)

Which is basically what he was saying. Droid is a line of Motorola smartphones, and this certainly is a good reason to stay away from it. Where did the OS even come into this?

Re:Sounds like (3, Informative)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913202)

A great excuse to stay away from Motorola. It's not the OS, it's the hardware, and only Motorola (that we know of) is doing this crap.

Right. Droid is the Motorola trademark (licensed from Lucasfilm) for their hardware that runs the Android software.

Re:Sounds like (2, Informative)

Enry (630) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912898)

No, just an excuse to stay away from the Droid X. The Droid line has a number of phones from different manufacturers that make it. The original Droid and Droid X are made by Motorola while the Droid Incredible is made by HTC. Only the Droid X (so far) suffers from this problem that will likely have a way around it soon enough.

Re:Sounds like (-1, Flamebait)

NekSnappa (803141) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913130)

Actually the "Droid line" is from Motorola.

The "Android OS" is on a number of phones from different manufacturers.

It's a wonderful New World (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32912818)

Wasn't the android phones meant to be the openish alternative to the wall^H^H^H^Hputrid compost offered by Apple?

Everywhere I turn all I see are platforms backed by people who hate developers.

How is this even legal? (0)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912822)

If the company which manufactured my washing machine included a termite charge in their hardware booby-trapped to melt the contents of the casing should I try to open it I'm fairly sure that would be illegal in some way.

Re:How is this even legal? (5, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912856)

If the company which manufactured my washing machine included a termite charge

Termite? Methinks maybe thermite [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:How is this even legal? (2, Funny)

bannable (1605677) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912878)

I know I wouldn't be pleased with a termite charge. Imagine all the structural damage!

Re:How is this even legal? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913104)

What if it is just a charge for not putting termites in your phone?

Re:How is this even legal? (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912922)

no no!
Metal termites!
they'll break a home appliance down within minutes!

thermite would work too though... weird... my spell-checker doesn't like the word thermite.

Re:How is this even legal? (1)

bannable (1605677) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912944)

I think the termite might have eaten your thermite.

Re:How is this even legal? (2, Funny)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913124)

twice as deadly!
Metal termites filled with thermite!

Ouch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32912824)

Ouch. The whole advantage of a Droid over an iPhone was supposed to be that the Droid wasn't locked, so you could modify it. Now we find that not only is it locked, but it has a hardwired kill switch that goes off automatically if you tamper? Ouch OUCH ouch.

Re:Ouch (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912948)

In reality, the main appeal of Android operating systems is that they give phone manufacturers a serious competitor to Apple and they don't have to pay Microsoft. Not to mention, they probably don't care for Windows Mobile.

Re:Ouch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32913028)

In reality, you don't seem to know anything... HTC pays Microsoft to use Android.

Re:Ouch (5, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913096)

In reality, the main appeal of Android operating systems is that they give phone manufacturers a serious competitor to Apple and they don't have to pay Microsoft. Not to mention, they probably don't care for Windows Mobile.

The problem is that what made the Android OS a serious competitor to Apple was that it wasn't locked. If a phone running Android is locked as tight as an Iphone, I may as well get the Iphone and the "coolness" of owning an Apple product.

So, are there reasons for this? (2, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912826)

Not to defend a company which builds stuff which will brick your phone if you mod it, but ...

Might there be legitimate reasons why Motorola would be required to do this? Patents they've licensed? Covering their asses against the RIAA et al? Perhaps Verizon wanted this?

Or, is this truly a case of a company taking an open platform and buggering it up by locking it? It sounds shifty, but there might actually be strong reasons why they did it in the first place.

Re:So, are there reasons for this? (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912886)

I can't see how it could be to do with patents.
the whole point of patents is that you have to disclose the design to get your patent.
requiring people to include an auto-destruct in anything which contains your technology would seem pointless in such a situation... of course if the patents in question are just bullshit laywer-ese patents on a general idea explained through flowcharts or interpretive dance something like what their tech does then it might make sense.

Re:So, are there reasons for this? (2, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912932)

More likely covering their asses against the FCC.

Re:So, are there reasons for this? (1)

DJLuc1d (1010987) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913098)

I have a hard time seeing what it would have to do with the FCC. I'll put my money on Verizon wanting this. Don't want anybody rooting their phone to get free tethering (much less actually OWNING a device they have paid for.)

Re:So, are there reasons for this? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913010)

It's possible that this is designed to prevent malware from installing a rootkit - if it succeeds, brick the phone and have the data extracted by another machine if required. If so, it's a very poorly thought out feature.

Re:So, are there reasons for this? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32913012)

Doesn't Verizon find a way to cripple all its phones, usually as a way to force you to buy services that you shouldn't need? (i.e. requiring you to pay data charges to transfer your phone book or pictures from your phone to a PC.)

Re:So, are there reasons for this? (1)

Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913060)

It's possible that there are legal requirements on Motorola to do this. That doesn't make it a good idea.

How long do you think it's going to be before someone creates a virus that modifies the phone's software _just_ enough that this eFuse protection system gets tripped? Bricks for everyone, including mass quantities of bricks being shipped back to Motorola to fix. If Motorola charges for the fix, I imagine SOMEONE is going to start a class-action suit; if not, it'll be a costly lesson for Motorola.

Re:So, are there reasons for this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32913128)

to disallow mods mandated by verizon so tethering only works through their overpriced mifi option?

Droid Does... (5, Funny)

thittesd0375 (1111917) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912834)

Does your phone self destruct if you mod it? Where others don't... Droid does!

Goodbye Moto (5, Interesting)

Coopjust (872796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912836)

Seriously, I can understand your warranty being voided if you do unapproved modifications to a device, but designing the device so it blows up if you try to modify it is just wrong.

Why do hardware companies think they should have the right to own the device forever? Why should I buy a device that has a time bomb built in that may trip if the official software gets corrupted due to a bug?

The whole thing reeks. I'm done with Motorola. What is the point of this exactly? What does Motorola lose by you running a custom ROM? New phone sales when they decide after a year not to provide any Android updates?

Re:Goodbye Moto (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912942)

The whole thing reeks. I'm done with Motorola. What is the point of this exactly? What does Motorola lose by you running a custom ROM? New phone sales when they decide after a year not to provide any Android updates?

The point is that with all phones, money is lost on the hardware but made on the stringent phone contracts attached to them. Even if the hardware manufacturers could make a sliver of profit on the phones themselves, they'd lose their lucrative contracts with the phone companies if they did not do everything they can to satisfy the shareholders that they're slapping the handcuffs and ankle restraints on the clients. Why do you think Apple is STILL locked on to AT&T after all these years?

Re:Goodbye Moto (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32913106)

Because both companies agreed to a five-year contract with each other. Look it up.

Re:Goodbye Moto (1)

Coopjust (872796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913116)

Even the official builds from Motorola allow you to install APKs not blessed by Google, correct? So what reason would Verizon have to block a small but vocal minority from getting super geeky with their phones? What reason would Verizon have to say "don't allow non-official firmware"?

If you're going along with the theory that they'll stop Android upgrades as a reason to upgrade, I doubt it'll work. The headlines I'm reading now are "Motorola puts self destruct chips in phones", not "Droid X does not permit reflashing." These are the headlines that scare regular buyers away.

Even if the nerds are a minority of your buyers they're still the group that people come to when they want to get a new phone. Given the lockdown, would you recommend a Droid X to anyone, even if they weren't planning on unlocking it? No, out of principle, and the fact that there are numerous other great options for Android, I would recommend someone against buying a Motorola phone at the time being.

Re:Goodbye Moto (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913026)

I'm thinking they want to give the carriers the option of selling advertising on the Droid X.

Re:Goodbye Moto (1)

ergrthjuyt (1856764) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913030)

i think this is indicative of a new business model that is emerging - one of an intangible "service" coupled with, or made possible by, hardware. In this case the service is the cell phone plan, and the handset is the hardware accessory that makes it possible. The problem is that providers want more control over the hardware and how the service is used.

This is perfectly within their rights, but it would have to be clearly spelled out in the contract -- and again, this all gets fuzzy because the business thinks they can control the phone, even though the customer has purchased and legally owns it. For comparison, look at XBox live and the fiasco with modded xboxes.

Should be an interesting thing to watch for.

Re:Goodbye Moto (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32913042)

Seriously, I can understand your warranty being voided if you do unapproved modifications to a device, but designing the device so it blows up if you try to modify it is just wrong.

And as far as I know, this is also illegal. I hope someone gets sued over this.

+1000. Goodbye Moto, Hello HTC (5, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913056)

This is just another nail in the coffin for Motorola, who becomes more and more irrelevant every year, being pushed out of the market on both sides by Apple and HTC.

HTC makes the most robust and moddable phones on the planet, and do not try to stop the modding in any way - in fact one may say they passively encourage it.

This post is coming from someone who owns a 4 year old HTC Vogue that came shipped with Windows mobile 6.0, but thanks to the modders, has been upgraded to 6.1 and 6.5, and more recently ove rthe past 3 months, has been running a fully working version of Android that is lightning fast. All on 4 year old hardware.

This is what can be done when you don't shut out your customers - I am an HTC purchaser for life now.

Re:Goodbye Moto (3, Informative)

Devrdander (1105175) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913108)

Its designed obsolescence. I learned this the hard way with my Samsung behold II, Samsung wants you to buy a new phone, and tries hard to lock you out of self updates so that the only option you have is to buy a new piece of hardware. The market has designed itself in such a way that its business model is dependent on people buying a new device every 2 years. If they let you openly hack your phone they cut into their bottom line. Hopefully the new players like HTC that are a bit more open will help change the marketplace.

sounds abusable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32912854)

If the trend continues, next generation of mobile viruses won't even need payloads, they'll just have to be there

Easy for hackers to fix? (1, Interesting)

Teppy (105859) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912858)

TFA doesn't explain what an "eFuse" is, but if it's anything like an actual fuse, then shorting it should be easy enough. If it's not protecting anything (in the traditional sense), then the equivalent of "jamming in a penny" should be safe and effective, and would allow hackers to tinker until it gets rooted.

Re:Easy for hackers to fix? (4, Interesting)

Coopjust (872796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912916)

eFUSE is a chip technology developed by IBM [ibm.com] is a special type of chip where the code isn't completely static- based on the operation of the device, an eFUSE can blow itself. This can reroute the logic in a variety of ways, or be used as a self destruct mechanism.

It's reversible, but only by Motorola directly via JTAG. They have the custom code needed to flash the chip back to its original state.

Re:Easy for hackers to fix? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32912964)

It's like your usual fuse, only the 'e' means it's electronic.

Re:Easy for hackers to fix? (2, Informative)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912968)

TFA doesn't explain what an "eFuse" is, but if it's anything like an actual fuse, then shorting it should be easy enough.

If you follow the link in the story to here [mydroidworld.com] , it says:

The eFuse is coded with information that it either looks for or is passed to it from the bootloader. The bootloader is loaded with information it looks for when it begins the boot-up process. (I have seen the sbf file look for a certain bootloader when it begins so its safe to assume that this is the process).

Once the the eFuse verifies that the information it is looking for or that has been passed through to it by the bootloader is correct then the boot process continues. What type of information is written to the bootloader? So far i've been able to verify that the firmware information (what we call ROMS), the kernel information, and the bootloader version.

If the eFuse failes to verify this information then the eFuse receives a command to "blow the fuse" or "trip the fuse". This results in the booting process becoming corrupted and resulting in a permanent bricking of the Phone. This FailSafe is activated anytime the bootloader is tampered with or any of the above three parts of the phone has been tampered with.

Basically, they've added trusted computing to a phone.

The eFuse is the gatekeeper -- if it detects that you've done something they haven't approved, it causes the phone to self destruct.

So far, it doesn't seem like this is an easy thing to work around.

Re:Easy for hackers to fix? (1)

locallyunscene (1000523) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913114)

Crap, I just ordered some Droid X's for my upgrade. I wasn't planning on modding it right away so hopefully by the time the OS updates are no longer supported it will be moddable.

Re:Easy for hackers to fix? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32912976)

Well it's like a ordinary fuse bute it is integrated in the main cpu.
opening up the cpu chip to bridge it is really not a option, well unless you have acss to top notch equipment.
but then the equipment to make a cpu is most likley cheaper and easier to find.

Re:Easy for hackers to fix? (1)

foo1752 (555890) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912990)

then the equivalent of "jamming in a penny" should be safe and effective

Except that the "eFuse" is inside one of the ICs, probably one of the processors, and is completely inaccessible. Since you won't be able to modify the code that checks the state of the fuse AND you can't physically "jam a penny" into the fuse, you're still shit out of luck.

Re:Easy for hackers to fix? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32912996)

TFA doesn't explain what an "eFuse" is

Could be as simple as a FLASH or EEPROM bit that is set

Re:Easy for hackers to fix? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32913000)

If they implemented it like sony in the ps3 you will just have to put your 'penny' into the circuits inside the cpu. 45nm shouln't be a problem for you.

Re:Easy for hackers to fix? (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913194)

TFA doesn't explain what an "eFuse" is,

That's because it should be known to someone who's qualified to mess with the software of the phone.

It's basically a write-once memory cell that says "I work" (if not written to 0) or "I'm bricked" (if writen to 0). And since it's sitting somewhere on a custom chip and is only a few microns large, good luck at trying to short that. You might be able to pull of stuff like that if you have specialized tools to mess with ICs, but you can probably by a truckload of cellphones for the price of those tools.

THIS IS NOT A PROBLEM !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32912870)

This is a good thing for all concerned!!

Your Keeper
G-

How is this legal? (5, Insightful)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912874)

If I purchase the phone outright, wouldn't this be willful destruction of property on Motorola's part? Does a company have the right to destroy a purchased product - after the sale - if the consumer doesn't use it in a prescribed manner?

Re:How is this legal? (3, Interesting)

Xelios (822510) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913082)

Everything of this nature is legal, until it's brought before a court of law. Are you willing to put in years of stress and potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars to file a suit against a Telecom giant that might reward you the cost of the phone? I don't think I would be, and companies like Motorola count on the fact that most people aren't.

Not a good idea, Moto and Verizon... (5, Insightful)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912892)

Ah... I guess I won't be buying a DroidX then. Sad, really... I was looking forward to getting one when the contract was up on my Droid.

And I've been very happy with my Droid. Now, one wonders...was this done to suit Verizon or if it was on Moto's own thinking that it was done. I might not have modded my phone when I got it, but doing things like this are a real put-off. I bought the phone, it's mine to do with as I see fit- and putting in things like this take that away from me. It turns it into Motorola's device or Verizon's device and I'm just renting it. Sorry, you SOLD me a phone guys and if you're concerned about "user experience" or "risks to the network" design the damn phone to not need to be concerned about EITHER- and anything else is lying to the customer outright.

Motorolas jackassery, see Milestone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32913054)

I'm almost certain Moto is at fault here... As a European Droid (it's called Milestone here) User I am - to this very day - not able to flash Custom ROMs, because Motorola decided it would be a funny idea to cryptographically sign the bootloader. With no reason whatsoever. When asked, they usually reply that they are making phones for users and not for crazy hackers. Those should get get a Nexus One or something instead...

How a broken company like Moto can allow itself to brush of an entire branch of customers like that is a mystery to me, however this "eFuse" seems to be the logical sequel to Motorolas douchebag-policy.

subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32912928)

Just keep from off from buying the Moto X. These restrictions are good to know early. Thanks slashdot

Developers make the phone (2, Interesting)

necro351 (593591) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912936)

If developers don't want to use the phone, the platform's potential will be limited to the imagination and the business model of the original vendor, which is usually very limited. Android phones like this one will be selected against. Users will want to 'unlock' their phone's power by clicking the install button in the windows program they download from that .org site everyone they know goes to, and phones that brick when they do this will eventually not be bought. Really its a stupid move for Motorola.

It was only a matter of time... (1)

zLaSh (1102593) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912956)

Something similar always happened with the Milestone (Droid's brother outside US). Motorola is surely gaining a lot of enemies.

Invitation to brick? (5, Insightful)

swanky (23477) | more than 4 years ago | (#32912978)

Because of this setup--isn't it entirely possible that some sort of malware can be created to actually attempt to brick the phone by triggering efuse?

Cthuluphone.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32912980)

....after all, why opt for the LESSER of evils?

"beta" only (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913018)

My understanding is that the Droid X isn't actually at release yet.
If it's a "feature" on the beta phones, it may actually be somewhat understandable. I doubt moto wants people fiddling around with the guts of the protypes, because they'd be rather limited in supply, and it's pretty hard to properly test a phone that's been outfitted with non-standard hacks.

What about frying the computer on a Toyota (1)

kernelcache (1810198) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913052)

If you own a device then the device owner, not the creator, has every legal right to do what they want with the device. If the device has a built-in tamper mechanism and turns it into a brick then that is part of the devices functionality; however, it would be like saying that if you don't purchase a Toyota factory replacement part then the car's computer will fry itself. I will bet that hackers will find an easy way around this, but if they don't and someone downloads an application which attempts to modify the boot loader, or any other piece, which causes the eFuse to trip, then Motorola and Verizon might be left holding the bag...of cash and dolling it out to device owners.

Citation needed (4, Insightful)

rumith (983060) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913062)

I did follow the TFA to the origin of the story (MyDroidWorld [mydroidworld.com] forum), and I still don't see any code, captured data or even a photo of the said eFuse chip inside the DroidX. I understand that the original poster appears to be a reputable hacker, but come on, what kind of real reporting is this? Can anyone else verify these claims? More information needed, thank you very much whoever posts it, because if true, this is an outrage.

Glad I have an Apple phone. (5, Funny)

lxs (131946) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913070)

Compared to the eFuse, their new iFuse just works, which makes for an infinitely superior bricking experience.

Corporate Security (2, Interesting)

Manhigh (148034) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913076)

I'm under the impression that the Droid X is intended for the business market, to try to take a bite out of RIM's market share. This sounds like an attempt to make the phone more "secure" by preventing people from getting at the data by rooting the phone. Not that it's necessarily the best way, but thats just my 2 cents.

These aren't the droids we're looking for. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32913094)

Move along.

That's it!! They have lost my business. (0, Troll)

intheshelter (906917) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913118)

I thought they were open, but apparently they have a walled garden just like Apple. I can't install any Apple apps on an Android phone. They are trying to lock me in to only Android apps. I should have the freedom to install any apps on MY phone. It's just another example of the way Google is trying to control everything you do AND they are trying to make money. They make money on AdMob ads, they make money on their app store. Google is so evil.

"Written in JTAG" (4, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913146)

"Written in JTAG" implies a program written in a language called JTAG.

The problem is that JTAG is a standardized electrical communications protocol used to support debugging of ICs, and often also used to program them.

Nothing can be "written in JTAG" because it isn't a programming language. I question whether the poster on that forum has any clue what's really going on. So far the only evidence of this is one forum post that has very little detail and has some glaring technical/grammatical errors (see above). I'll believe it when I see a more in-depth analysis.

Its a feature (1)

solidrepellent (1626893) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913184)

Motorola spokesperson: It's not a bug, its a feature. It will be used to remotely wipe your data and render the phone useless when you loose your droid. [pun intended!]

A nice class-action suit (5, Insightful)

markus_baertschi (259069) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913186)

I hope Motorola get's a nice class-action suit out of this.

Imagine a nice little virus, designed to trigger the 'self-destruct' and some innocent users getting infected.

Markus

I know which one I'd pick (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913204)

> If the eFuse failes to verify this information then the eFuse
> receives a command to "blow the fuse" or "trip the fuse".

Well, which is it, tripping or blowing? Those are two totally different things. One is a lot more fun than the other.

Apparently... (5, Funny)

Crippere (1825560) | more than 4 years ago | (#32913206)

Apparently, this is not the Droid you're looking for.
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