Windows RT Jailbroken: Runs Unsigned Apps

7 January 2013, 7:25 am EST By Prarthito Maity email: Mobile & Apps

Users of Android and iOS are well accustomed with rooting and jailbreaking their smartphones, respectively. Now it seems like Windows RT users will soon be joining them with their own jailbreak.

Per reports, the Windows RT can now be jailbroken to install and run desired apps. The new jailbreak for Windows RT was brought into light by Nicaraguan security researcher clrokr, and will let interested users install unsigned, non-Windows-Store apps.

clrokr, in his attempt to jailbreak the Windows RT, managed to unlock the OS' kernel setting which prevents Windows RT devices from running unsigned code as found on desktop applications. He made use of a security vulnerability which exists in Windows 8 and, accordingly, is also present in Windows RT, and was also well aware of the fact that Microsoft already allows Remote Debuggers to attach to user processes.

"Ironically, a vulnerability in the Windows kernel that has existed for some time and got ported to ARM just like the rest of Windows made this possible. MSFT's artificial incompatibility does not work because Windows RT is not in any way reduced in functionality," clrokr wrote in his blog.

"It's a clean port, and a good one. But deep in the kernel, in a hashed and signed data section protected by UEFI's Secure Boot, lies a byte that represents the minimum signing level."

The process can be achieved by altering just a byte in the memory. The Microsoft-based platform refers to it in order to review what level of control it should enforce over permissible apps. Although, normally, Windows RT limits apps to those signed only by Microsoft, changing that value unlocks the system and allows the use of any compatible app that the users chooses.

However, it has also been stated that the hack will presumably not persist beyond a reboot, and the process of enabling also require a lot of expertise and work. Basically, someone with a sound knowledge of these things.

"clrokr argues that the discovery shows that there is no essential difference between Windows 8 and Windows RT, and that users should have the ability to run desktop apps. On the other hand he does not seem to appreciate the advantages of restricting users to metro apps in terms of security, simplicity and battery life," states.

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