Archive for December, 2008

iTunes App Store Hacking

by on Dec.19, 2008, under Hacking

App Store Category List

App Store Category List

Last night, I tried to figure out how the iTunes App Store (as accessed from the iPod Touch) worked.
I was able to simulate the app store experience, and here are the few notes I took on the matter.

All replies from the App Store are gzip-compressed.
If any of these steps fails, the connection is terminated.

  1. The device queries for a “bag” (ix=2), which contains a signature and a signing key.
  2. The device sends a non-binary plist (XML property list) of its current applications to a WebObject called “availableSoftwareUpgrades”
  3. The app store replies with a list of all the information for those applications. It is up to the iPod itself to determine whether/not there are upgrades.
  4. Periodically, the device makes a request to (which replies 100 Continue instead of 200 OK), which I believe is for stats tracking.
  5. The device reads software categories and loads icons (WebObject viewFeaturedSoftwareCategories)
  6. The device loads the contents of a category (WebObject viewGenre)
  7. The device loads an application’s information descriptor (WebObject viewSoftware). This for some reason contains the text to be used in the price display, as well as the “INSTALL” or “BUY NOW” text.
  8. The device initiated a secure connection to download an application. This is where I had to stop my research, as I couldn’t track this.

Tools used:

  • curl (Commandline URL Fetcher)
  • Wireshark (packet capturer/analyzer)
  • Apache (Web Server, used here to serve fake App Ptore pages)
  • A single firewall rule on my router to redirect all traffic coming from the iPod back to my computer (iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -s ipod -p tcp -j DNAT –to Note: I couldn’t redirect to a computer inside the router’s network, so I had to hook up via WiFi to the router AND via Ethernet to the modem)
Modified App Store Application

Modified App Store Application

Not much useful information into the app loading process was gleaned from this, unfortunately, though I did manage to snap some “neat” screenshots of my meddling.

Applications are signed, though, so even if this was an exploitable vector, the device would need to be jailbroken first, thus making this useless.
Neat nonetheless.

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If Gentoo Linux were a Car…

by on Dec.16, 2008, under Humor, Linux

  1. You go pick up an engine (in pieces) and body parts from the central warehouse.
  2. You find that your version of sys-car/transmission is too new and you need to get a newer version of sys-car/engine out of storage.
  3. You put together the engine, transmission, and body. You’re pretty psyched, only to find that you have yet to install car-misc/seats.
  4. You install the seats, but find that the latest version of car-misc/seats does not correctly recognize the human body, due to an incompatibility.
  5. You downgrade car-misc/seats and in the process must downgrade sys-apps/steering-wheel for height concerns.
  6. You install the radio separately, which is the easiest part.
  7. You turn the car on and it explodes.

EDIT: Whoa, it looks like I’ve been Reddited! Or whatever the appropriate form of that word is. I want to clarify that I love Gentoo and use it on a daily basis. For all the ~arch dependency hell, it’s still a pretty damn great distribution.

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