Three hackers say they have "jailbroken" the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, allowing them to run unauthorized applications and control hardware components that users can't normally access.
"We've done it. We've broken RIM's fancy security," said a hacker who goes by the alias "neuralic" in a demonstration video posted on Youtube. He said he collaborated on the project with two other hackers, known as Xpvqs and Chris "cmw" Wade.
In a statement, Playbook-maker Research in Motion said it was aware of "a claim made on Twitter" by security researchers "that suggests the ability to 'jailbreak' a BlackBerry PlayBook tablet."
Jailbreaking a device means altering it to gain access to systems or applications that aren't authorized by the manufacturer.
RIM added that it is investigating the claim and has been in contact with one of the security researchers to discuss it.
"If it is determined that the claim is accurate, RIM will follow its standard response process to develop and release a software update that is designed to minimize adverse impact to our customers or carrier partners," the company said.
RIM touts the security of its mobile devices as "industry-leading" and says that features such as its strong encryption allow users to "confidently access sensitive information on the go." The level of security makes them popular with businesses and governments. In July, the company announced that the PlayBook had been given security certification to be used by U.S. federal government agencies.
The company said it is currently not aware of anyone other than the hackers themselves making use of the jailbreak.
However, the hackers involved say they are planning to release a tool known as "Dingleberry" shortly that will allow users to jailbreak their own Playbooks.
"If such a tool is released, RIM will investigate it," the company said in a statement.
In his YouTube video, Neuralic said the hackers were able to jailbreak the PlayBook using a security exploit discovered a few months ago by Xpvqs.
He appears to show a computer gaining "root access" to Playbook — the highest level of access to the hardware and software, which is not normally available to any users. That can be used to turn the backlight and LEDs on and off, including a blue LED that he said is not normally used in RIM software.
Neuralic said he can get his jailbroken PlayBook to run the Google's Android market app and hopes to get a full version of Android running on the device in the future.
"That's going to be a lot of work, so we may need help to do that," he said.
In a separate video, Chris Wade showed how the group's new tool, Dingleberry, can allow the Playbook to run the video streaming application Hulu, which is not authorized by RIM.
Apple's iPhones are routinely jailbroken by hackers in order to run unauthorized apps. However, RIM's BlackBerry devices normally are not and the company has a reputation for having very strong security on its devices.