Following our series of interviews with XDA developers, this time we will talk with pof; an old time XDA retired moderator who has been actively working in reverse engineering/hacking WinMo. On top of that, he has tons of experience in security, and lately he started to develop for Android. Lets get into this fascinating world:
orb3000: Hi pof, thanks a lot for taking some time for the interview; and without further ado, lets start with an easy one , what was your first device?
pof: HTC BlueAngel (branded by I-Mate as PDA2k)
orb3000: What moved you into hacking & modding bootloaders?
pof: I was used to flash cooked ROMs on previous Windows Mobile phones, however when I bought the HTC Hermes I noticed it was no longer possible, HTC changed the ROM format (NBF to NBH) and signed the ROM´s so they could not be flashed on the phone if you don’t have their private key. That pissed me off because I wanted to mod my device, and at the time the developers community was still very small so nobody had looked into hacking it yet. So, I started researching on the new NBH format, and reverse engineer the bootloader to be able to circumvent the protections imposed by HTC.
orb3000: Where did you learn to get into the insides of devices?
pof: Mostly on XDA developers itself I used to read every technical post from other knowledgeable members such as itsme, Des, Mamaich, machinagod, or buzzlightyear to name a few. I also dedicated a lot of hours at home doing research and sharing the progress with other members over IRC (countless hours speaking with Olipro, cmonex, Asukal, arc, hdubli, etc… by the time) and I tried to organize and document everything in the wiki.
orb3000: What programming languages are you familiar with?
pof: At that time I only knew C and a little C++, then I learned some ARM assembly by disassembling bootloaders and debugging ARM code on phones, but that was totally self-taught with the ARM instruction set and some manuals I downloaded from the net, that was when I was trying to follow and understand all the Hermes IPL process. I liked it and since then I’ve been more involved in the reverse engineering world (crackmes.de is a good resource if you want a starting point), now I also enjoy learning x86 and Dalvik assembly although I’m still far from being an expert. Other than that, since I come from a Linux sysadmin background I also know some bash/shell scripting, PHP and a bit of Python and Java.
At this point, we will finish our first part of 3 of this interesting interview. Stay tuned for the second part next week, where we will take topics such as Android security and more. Thanks for reading and please leave your comments.
Special thanks to Noonski!_________