The Infamous Hacker Facebook Hired as a Developer

Meet George Hotz, aka GeoHot

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Here's an interesting human resources decision. Facebook, according to reports, has hired one of the most infamous hackers around to work as a product developer. George Hotz--a.k.a. GeoHot, a.k.a. the kid who hacked the Playstation 3, inviting a lawsuit by Sony, thus inviting a cyber attack on Sony, eventually costing the company an estimated $24 billion in damages--is now sitting pretty under the house that Mark Zuckerberg built. Techmeme founder Gabe Rivera says that Hotz started at Facebook in May. Here's what we know about the company's mischievous new hire.

The early years  In 2007, Hotz was profiled by Forbes for his participation in the International Science & Engineering Fair. At the time, he was a "teen basement tinkerer" who built "competitive-battle robots, using an assortment of saws, glue guns, presses and a 3,500-pound milling machine he bought on Ebay for $700":

The shaggy-haired teen's real dream had always been to build a holodeck, the simulated-reality machine from Star Trek. The first step was to make a device that could project a three-dimensional image visible from all angles--a volumetric display.

The jailbreaker  Later on, "Hotz gained notoriety as an iPhone hacker," writes Ellis Hamburger at Business Insider. "The first one to crack Apple's carrier-locking scheme, enabling users to use iPhones on any GSM carrier. He also released the first software jailbreak for Apple's iPhone 3GS in 2008."

The PlayStation hacker  Last year, he gave a rather cocksure interview to the BBC, explaining his success hacking the PlayStation 3:

The PS3 is the only games console that has not been hacked, despite being on the market for three years.

"It's supposed to be unhackable - but nothing is unhackable," Mr Hotz told BBC News.

"I can now do whatever I want with the system. It's like I've got an awesome new power - I'm just not sure how to wield it."

After he figured out how to hack the product, he published instructions online for how others could do it too, allowing people to play old PS2 games and pirated games. As a result, Sony took Hotz to court and the two parties settled this year. The litigious actions of Sony were enough to inspire the loosely-affiliated hacker group to launch an alleged security breach that has cost Sony an estimated $24 billion in damages and compromising the personal information of some 70 million PlayStation users.

Setting the precedent  Interestingly, the hire by Facebook isn't completely unprecedented, notes the International Business Times:  "Earlier, Facebook profile hacker Chris Putnam, iOS hacker Peter Hajas, Twitter hacker Michael Mooney, and Ashley Towns, the creator of the first ever iPhone worm, had all made news after they got into the corporate scene, leaving behind the intriguing world of hacking."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.