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Thursday, November 05, 2009, 11:05 am PT (02:05 pm ET)

Apple looks to hire new iPhone OS security manager

As hackers continue to exploit the iPhone platform to run unauthorized code, Apple is in the process of hiring a new security manager to help lock down its mobile operating system.

A job listing on Apple's Web site seeks someone for the title of "iPhone OS Platform Security Manager," a position that would be based in the company's corporate headquarters of Cupertino, Calif. The company is looking for someone to oversee its team which ensures secure booting and installation of the iPhone OS and protecting and hardening it against outside threats.

As noted by Network World, it's not clear whether the position is new, or if Apple is looking to replace someone on an existing team. The Santa Clara Valley job was posted on Oct. 16, 2009.

"This position requires a very technical and hands-on leader, someone with a passion for understanding security exploits and coming up with innovative methods to create secure platforms," the company's description reads. "You must be a highly self-motivated individual who seeks to create a dynamic and creative team environment in which old problems are solved in new and innovative ways."

The position will require the manager to set the roadmap for the iPhone OS platform security, "with an emphasis on hardware support and trusted computing methods." Potential candidates must have three years of experience managing a software development team, direct experience with cryptographic or security related technologies, an expertise in system design with regard to hardware and software security exploits.

The focus of the iPhone OS security team is likely to prevent the practice known as "jailbreaking," via which users can run software not authorized by Apple for use on the iPhone.

Jailbreaking an iPhone allows users to run software not approved by Apple. Some of the capabilities allowed are harmless, like the ability to install custom wallpapers and themes. Some enter a grey area, such as enabling tethering on the AT&T network without the carrier's authorization. And jailbreaking can also allow users to engage in outright illegal activities, like pirate App Store software, if they so choose.

This week, teenage hacker George Hotz released a new jailbreak and carrier unlock combo that is the first successful hack for iPhone OS 3.1.2 and baseband 05.11.07. Hotz first made headlines two years ago when he was the first to successfully unlock Apple's original iPhone. This past summer, he also released the first jailbreaking tool for the new iPhone 3GS.

It has been a long back-and-forth battle between Apple and hackers since the iPhone debuted in 2007. While those working to crack the phone have, until now, been able to maintain their ability to run unauthorized code, Apple, at the moment, appears to have the upper hand. The most recently updated iPhone 3GS, released mid-cycle in October, requires what is known as a "tethered jailbreak," meaning that the iPhone must be attached to a computer via USB and have a hack applied each time it is restarted.