RIM responds to PlayBook root, says investigation is underway

A group of security researchers recently demonstrated on video that they have successfully gained root access to the QNX-based operating system found on Research In Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. The PlayBook jailbreak and related “mack truck” security hole these hackers identified could have some serious implications for future BlackBerry devices, but RIM says users should not get ahead of themselves. “Research In Motion (RIM) is aware of a claim made on Twitter by security researchers working together that suggests the ability to ‘jailbreak’ a BlackBerry PlayBook tablet,” RIM said in a statement, noting that no BlackBerry smartphone users are affected. RIM also said it will begin working on a patch for the claimed security hole if its investigation determines the hackers’ claims are genuine, and it will also investigate any PlayBook jailbreaking tool released to the public. RIM’s full statement follows below, along with a video demonstration of security researcher “neuralic” gaining root access to a BlackBerry PlayBook.

Research In Motion (RIM) is aware of a claim made on Twitter by security researchers working together that suggests the ability to “jailbreak” a BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. The term “jailbreaking” is commonly used to describe altering the software on a smartphone or tablet in order to obtain access to systems or applications not officially authorized or distributed by the manufacturer. BlackBerry smartphone users are not affected. RIM is currently investigating this claim and has been in contact with one of the security researchers to discuss it.

RIM is currently not aware of a jailbreak being leveraged by anyone other than the researchers, who claim to have performed a jailbreak on their own BlackBerry PlayBook tablets only. If it is determined that the claim is accurate, RIM will follow its standard response process to develop and release a software update that is designed to minimize adverse impact to our customers or carrier partners. RIM is aware that the security researchers have stated they intend to release a tool to jailbreak the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. If such a tool is released, RIM will investigate it.

The security of mobile devices and major networked systems is tested by third-party security researchers every day. RIM also continually tests the security of its own products, and volunteers its products to recognized industry experts for security testing and certification to help identify possible issues. RIM is committed to the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet and to working with researchers to continue to protect our customers.

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