The root method, called towelroot, is available now on geohot’s website made specifically for the Galaxy S5, though the exploit he found apparently works for a variety of devices, including the Note 3 and Nexus 5. In an interview with Digital Trends, Hotz revealed that the exploit used is actually a vulnerability at the kernel level of Linux, which he ported into the Galaxy S5’s environment in order to establish root access. The vulnerability was patched for desktop Linux users but Android devices like the Galaxy S5 still have the opening to use for getting root access on the device.
If the name Geohot sounds at all familiar, it’s because he’s the developer behind the Limera1n exploit that helped jailbreak iOS devices back in 2010. He was also sued by Sony for getting Linux to run on the PS3 after it was removed by a firmware update. These days, he makes exploits for Android devices. According to Hotz, he recently developed a root for the Galaxy S4 Active, and moved over to Android from his iPhone because of the small screen size. It’s a wonder he discovered the root at all. Currently, he’s focusing more on freestyling than developing root methods for Android.
What’s also noteworthy about this root is the prize that comes with it. While developers usually try to accomplish root methods like these for the good of the community, in the case of the Galaxy S5 there’s $18,000 of bounty money to be collected from the gracious users who offered it up. Unlike an Indiegogo or similar crowdfunded campaign though, the money is not in a single place for him to collect. Instead, each user will have to reach out to Geohot and donate to his Bitcoin address or PayPal account. This means that some of the money might not come if the users refuse to cough it up, but several users have already made their contributions with photographic evidence on the XDA-Developers forums – some as much as contributing $500 to $1000 each. Needless to say, today will be like winning the lottery for Geohot.
Congrats to the Galaxy S5 owners over on AT&T and Verizon, and enjoy all the awesome rooted apps now available to you!