Earlier this week Ars Technica reported that Apple is claiming that jailbreaking iPhones could crash cell phone towers. Then, yesterday, security researchers reported that they could take control of iPhones via special SMS text messages. And, these two stories connected for me.
I haven't been able to find any details of the iPhone hack, but from what I gather the special SMS messages cannot be sent from a factory iPhone only from a jail broken one (or presumably a PC with an air card)
Maybe the reason that Apple has not patched this bug is that they are looking for this intersection. I would assume that though it might be technically possible to take out all iPhones in the world, the probability is low. I would imagine that if a carrier saw a patterned flood of text messages they would intervene. Assuming the real impact of this security hole is marginal, it might make it easier for Apple to convince the government that people should not be jail breaking the iPhone. The fear of hackers hijacking phones could also steer public opinion on jail breaking, making it easier to steer government. Most people don't know or care about baseband hacking, but no one wants their cell phone hacked into.