The strange tale of PS3 hacking

I’ve just been reading that the PS3 was hacked a week ago. Now I do not condone nor engage in piracy and this hack does not enable open use of the PS3, it only enables game piracy. Never the less, the mechanism used to hack the PS3 is quite interesting so I thought I’d post about it here and not in the games section.

Apparently the PS3 is hacked by using a certain type of usb controller to run code on it and that usb controller is found in a few different types of HTC and Android phones (and newer iPhones) or a certain model TI scientific calculator.

You plug your phone or calculator into your PS3, run a program from it and reboot the PS3. Done.

I thought that this hack never allowed playing copied games?

Regardless, software-only hacks are easily fixed as evidenced by Sony’s latest update, which has nuked this little vulnerability.

The hack apparently was originally done with a usb dongle and before it was produced for sale some one recreated it and open sourced it for phones without the ability to play backups. Other hackers promptly added the code to play backups back into the open source version and voila, a PS3 cracked to play back ups with a phone.

You are right that it was quickly patched out of course but I thought the idea of hacking a console with a scientific calculator was just too awesome.

The newest USB Hack allowed for the option to copy one’s games to the HD. Meanwhile Sony has updated the PS3 firmware (3.42) and the system seems to be fully locked again.

Last time they disabled the Linux option via a firmware update.

Sony really got the security right this time.

They have a pretty great case study on the PSP.

Does anyone know if the current setup has spawned the “shadow rom” type of situation that the PSP did, where the new ROMs are cracked and stripped of DRM stuff and then re-released in order to maintain feature parity?

It may eventually, but as I understand it the executables for game backups remain encrypted so that is not a solved problem yet.

This is the longest lasting, unhacked gaming platform of all time IIRC. Maybe Sony is really on the way to get rid of piracy on their platforms alltogether.

To the best of my knowledge, that’s not how the scene works on the PSP. Instead what they do is they take the system firmware roms and strip out (or more likely bypass) the veracity check for unsigned code. They never really touch the game executable, they just NOP the check to make sure the executable is valid in the first place. Sony then goes and fixes the vulnerability that allows installation of custom firmwares, updates the version, and tells companies to start releasing games verified against version XXX of the firmware.