PS3s used to capture child pornographers

US' Cyber Crimes Center begins using console's processing power to crack passwords on suspected sexual predators' protected files.

The PlayStation 3 has been used for a variety of altruistic tasks following its launch in 2006. Perhaps the most high-profile of these ventures is the Folding@home project, which uses spare processing power from idling, networked PS3s to undertake the arduous task of simulating protein folding in order to study the causes of various diseases.

The latest effort to harness the PS3's processing power for good comes from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Cyber Crimes Center. As reported by Axcess News, the Cyber Crimes Center (C3) is using networked PS3s to capture sexual predators by cracking passwords on computers suspected of containing child pornography.

The report notes that while law enforcement agents can execute a warrant to secure the physical computers, the Fourth Amendment protects suspected predators from surrendering passwords and other encryption material. As such, the agency attempts to crack the passwords by using a program that tries all possible key combinations. The report notes that a six-digit password has nearly 282 trillion possible permutations, and the networked PS3 can attempt 4 million guesses per second.

The fight against kiddie porn has a new ally.

"Bad guys are encrypting their stuff now, so we need a methodology of hacking on that to try to break passwords," said C3 senior special agent Claude E. Davenport. "The PlayStation 3--its processing component--is perfect for large-scale library attacks."

Davenport went on to note that while other gaming consoles could technically also accomplish the task, the agency also needs to install software using the open-source operating system Linux. However, C3 must use pre-PS3 Slim units, as new restrictions introduced with the latest iteration of the console prevent the agency from installing the open-source operating system.

Written By

Want the latest news about PlayStation Home?

PlayStation Home

PlayStation Home

Discussion

474 comments
xerotolerant
xerotolerant

@ TheDogout. Fanboism FTW! Umm that was a pretty stupid response. I suggest you investigate password cracking a little. 80million facts lmao. iIhad no idea the formula for cancer was E=Mc^2. If that made any sense at all you'd be a hero to millions. A little about password cracking for that cloud guy below. They mean 6 characters, and assuming it is case sensitive and there are no special characters it amounts to something like ((26x2)+(10))^6. 26x2 for the entire alphabet in both cases and 10 for digits 0 through 9. 62^6=56,800,235,584. They obviously make assumptions like that when making the calculations. Finally, if you ever tried breaking the pwd on an RAR file then you would probably have tried a dictionary attack. dictionary attacks really potentially reduce search times because the average person is unlikely to use a password made of random characters longer than 6 or so characters. The numbers in the article are just for reference using certain assumptions.

TheDogout
TheDogout

4 million guesses. Wow thats pathetic. Xbox can perform 80 million FACTS. Have fun ps3 at your 4 million GUESSES Ps3: Oh hm,,,,, is the formula to cancer 2+4+4569-34DIVIDED BY 3? Xbox: No it is e= mc2

Wolf3037
Wolf3037

If your mad at Sony for this decision, make sure to share that anger with the hackers. After all they are equally at fault for forcing Sony's hands.

Judgester
Judgester

It can hack sex-offenders' systems but takes ages to load a Bayonetta stage. Now I've seen it all xD

GeneralArrow
GeneralArrow

So they confiscate the computer ala search warrant then use a network of ps3 systems to crack the pass code. Brilliant.

seekerofkiwi
seekerofkiwi

@PhilipO38 Sorry kiddo but no one cares about what you think.

pukmok
pukmok

I knew it was stupid to get rid of Linux for the slim. Pretty much destroyed the option of using ps3s for processing in the future. Hopefully Sony can offer special firmware PS3's to companies.

nynthninja
nynthninja

Thats awesome for Chris Hanson.....now where is my game news?

SciFiCat
SciFiCat

I think that news like this should make Sony reconsider and allow for Linux to be installed on the new PS3 Slims as well.

FF_fan2004
FF_fan2004

Some person took a complaint to the message I posted a while ago. I forgotten about the censor bypassing was a no go on the terms and conditions. And to the person that reported me, should hang their head in shame even though I merely spoke the truth. And I will say it again but properly: What's the problem? At least those filthy, wretched, disgusting, scum (and that is not swear words Gamespot mediators, look it up) that are the paedophiles are caught. I repeat, at least those monsters are caught! That's one less in the world. If the US have to use the PS3 in order to stop these atrociously horrible crimes, then I commend them for doing their job to stop these monsters. These wretched monsters must be stopped. Note: Scum can also be referred to in chemistry as a by product of soap and hard water. But also a very good and more appropriate word to use to describe criminals of such scale. Even most inmates in Britain target paedophiles, because of one unspoken rule. You don't touch kids.

asouthwood
asouthwood

Child porn is messed up, anything that is used to try stop it, is awesome!

Mason-McGlasson
Mason-McGlasson

@shadowysea07 That is not what this article is about if you would read it. They are talking about using PS3's processing power to get the passwords to perverts computers and encrypted files.

Cloud737
Cloud737

(continued from last post; this is the last one) Now let's look at how technically knowledgeable the agency seems from it's statements. Six passwords don't have that many possibilities (they're not "permutations" as the officer said; what kind of experts are they if they don't know maths)? Six digit passwords have 10(digits)^6 = 1 000 000 possibilities. They said the actual possibilities are 256^6, but that would mean the passwords use the full ASCII spectrum, not just alpha-numeric characters (which are a bit below half of the ASCII spectrum). Assuming the encoding program is not your average one where it only accepts alpha-numeric characters, the keyboard doesn't have support for the full ASCII spectrum, so that means the hackers either use files that store the characters/password (which you can try to find on their computers instead of trying brute force attacks), or the program just accepts typed numbers instead (i.e.: you type in a sequence of 6 numbers from 0 to 255), which seems to be the most plausible. So, my conclusions after reading this: 1) that agency blows 2) cracking passwords is very hard 3) cracking passwords will get impossibly hard in the future

Cloud737
Cloud737

(continued from last post) Also, this case applies only to 256-bit passwords (only numbers from 0 to 255 are used). What if it's actually a 512-bit or even 1024-bit? The effort for these cases aren't doubled, they're multiplied by 2^(X/256), where X is encryption strength (i.e.: the number before the "-bit" part, as in 512, 1024, etc.). As an example, a 512-bit password is 2^256 (~115.79 x 10^25) times harder to crack than a 256-bit one (the ones the officer referred to). A 1024-bit password is 2^512 times harder to crack than a 512-bit one, which makes it 2^4,294,967,296 (sorry, no estimation available; Window's scientific calculator says it can't even process this because of how off the charts numbers are) times harder than a 256-bit one. As you can see, it gets exponentially harder to crack the more encryption strength increases. Sure, 512-bit and 1024-bit passwords aren't that widely used today, possibly because of technical reasons, but I'm sure in the future it would all be possible, and I'm sure there should be a couple of programs out there that do this.

Cloud737
Cloud737

Is this article a joke? No really, I'm serious with that question. I don't think a PS3's processing power can beat a computer nowadays, and don't give me that "PS3 is superior" phrase, since the agency itself stated it would have used other consoles. In other words, other consoles (i.e.: the Xbox 360) are as powerful, and the PC is as powerful as the 360, if not more now. Besides, let's do a little maths and see how futile it is to try and break the encryption given the PS3's power. 282 trillion / 4 million (per second) = 70,500,000 seconds = 195,833.333 hours = 8159.72 days = 22.35 years. And remember, that's just for ONE FILE!! I know that's the worst case scenario, but it still speaks volumes. Also, I'm really wondering why they think the password length is 6. What, do you think all people use passwords of the same length? If you also take into account that password sizes are variable, then you'd also have to take into account passwords of length from 3 to 30, just to make sure (ideally would be from 1 to 255, but almost no one uses one or two character/number passwords, or anything above 30, at least not if his concern is security, as the last case means he'd have to write it down to remember it).

DoomKid
DoomKid

Sony hired Playstation Home Police Force or PSHPF.

BigBacon87
BigBacon87

@azureblade89 don't go calling people an idiot unless if your staring into a mirror. The 360 being released in 2005 is a big part of the reason more people in the US own one, that and until the recent price drop alot more casual gamers(like you) purchased an Xbox. Your logic is stupid, more people own a Wii as well doesn't make it better. More people drive Accord's than Lambourghini's too. In the end the PS3 will sell more and have a much longer lifespan(see PS2 vs Xbox). I mean kid, your still watching DVD's. Would you like my old walkman? I bet you would. L4D isn't a bad series by any means, does it compare to the Uncharted or God of War series? Not in a billion years. Have fun with your game though. By the way if you bothered to notice the post you were writing about was my response to somebody else. I mentioned L4D in my first post and left Halo out because Halo isn't worth bringing up. Pay attention kid that's how you learn things.

joksterz78
joksterz78

I always knew a game console would be more than just a box that slowly drains young impressionable minds. Good show PS3, now fix the economy!!

cjasko94
cjasko94

Wait someone fill me in it does what?

XeonForce
XeonForce

It only does everything. PS3 is the new chuck norris. lolz PS3 will cure cancer next. =P

kramer_inc
kramer_inc

@Flint247 you actually can order pizza from the PS3 with the internet browser

FF_fan2004
FF_fan2004

I own a 360, and yet to get a PS3, it's still too expensive for me personally. Irregardless, the yanks' C3 has shown initiative in using technology of this scale to tackle paedophilia. In this day and age one cannot underestimate the power of cyber technology. I may have bashed the US a few times, because I'm sarcastic and British; but what they have done here has earned my utmost respect for them. If there's one thing I admire about the yanks, it's their tough stance on such crime.

azureblade89
azureblade89

@BigBacon87 - normally i don't give idiots the time of day, but honestly? just because you're a PS3 fanboy and want to spout "facts" you also need to look at the fact that the 360 came out in 05, and is almost completely BC, more people in the US own a 360 than any other system and consistently 360 version of games sell more than PS3 versions. As for exclusives, you only mentioned Halo, what about Left 4 Dead? I don't even need to name any others just because L4D is the sh*t.

BigBacon87
BigBacon87

@ PhilipO38 who are you trying to convince? Is it me? No, I suspect it's you who isn't so sure. See I know the facts, you can head over to metacritic yourself if you'd like. The PS3 has more exclusives rated 80 or higher and that is a fact. BEYOND that, you mentioned that the 360 was bound to hit a lull. Rather convinient that your 'lull' of exclusive games happened during the PS3's coming of age. Thank god the PS3 had it's 'lull' at launch, the 360 peaked 3 years into it's lifecycle and it's downhill from here. I had a 360 in my house for years(before my roomie gave up after 4 RROD's), so I know both consoles very well. That is exactly why my living room has an 80gig fatty and my bedroom has a sexy slim. I don't want both because the 360 and it's exclusive lineup is laughable. Don't go shooting off your mouth so much when your opinions are just that, not facts. Oh and by the way no, I did not forget about Halo 3 and ODST they are just brutal outdated garbage. Enjoy playing with Milo guy.

brendanhunt1
brendanhunt1

so thats why kotick hates the ps3, he dosnt want to get caught

bigCman123
bigCman123

I can see it now... "PS3 helps save soldiers' lives" or "PS3 solves economic problems in the USA"... It only does everything XD. I had to say it. That's good, maybe now government officials will think twice before badmouthing the video game industry.

SocialAnXieTy
SocialAnXieTy

@robgam3r I'm a high-school dropout myself, bro.. that doesn't change the fact that you're babbling about absolutely nothing. Seriously, you're so inconsistent in your argument that I feel stupider for reading anything you type.

robgam3r
robgam3r

@SocialAnXieTy ya i understand it dosent affect u and u never been inbetween a rock and a hard spot but some people r ment to drop out of highschool if every one went to collage who would work at burger king its called a system for a reason and i just wna tto thank u for your time

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

@BK-Sleeper But it's not exactly a likely scenario that the police would confiscate your computer without a warrant, then take it to Stanford, where they would then begin to attempt to crack password that you need to stay secure. I think people are having a difficult time understanding how exactly this works.

bm1212
bm1212

Ps3 is really a very powerful machine and it can do almost anything. What kind of sick, twisted human being actually wants child pornography? The real pornography is bad enough.

hatieshorrer
hatieshorrer

Of course the PS3 can catch child pornographers. "IT JUST DOES EVERYTHING!" :P

UnknownPerson55
UnknownPerson55

it fights crime...i knew they had spiderman writing on them for a reason :lol:

Flint247
Flint247

Can I order pizza from a PS3 next? :D

BK-Sleeper
BK-Sleeper

@parrot_of_adun: Laws can be broken.

erik_wolff
erik_wolff

108 PS3's gets you 1 brute forced 6 character password in about 7 days, give or take a few hours.

SocialAnXieTy
SocialAnXieTy

@robgam3r ...My IQ has dropped to an incredibly low score of 22 after reading your babbling. Thanks for that.

mike12431
mike12431

Its amazing that the ps3 can fight cyber crime, diseases, black hole calculations, and other advanced stuff, but i cant say i does everything cause it still cant play ps2 games! good thing i at least have the 60gb version.

Stabby
Stabby

So all you anti-game folks, games are now protecting your children haha!

monco59
monco59

I think Sony is a pretty cool guy. eh catches pedophiles and doesn't afraid of anything.

AncientDozer
AncientDozer

Jettero-Heller, who says it isn't overpriced? For me the PS3 is overpriced because I paid for things I never use, "deal" or no "deal". For someone who takes advantage of blue ray and wireless and all those features, obviously it wouldn't be overpriced but not everyone wants or needs these extra features that they paying for regardless. It comes down to want vs need and perspective, see? In some cases, sure, it is fanboyism but in many cases it's a matter of practicality and necessity. Of course, we could then debate whether an item like a 360 or PS3 and consoles in general are necessities but my point is it is all about point of view.

KSigMTSU
KSigMTSU

Kinda surprising that someone dosent make a cloud computing software to do this and let it run on end users pcs to help.. although come to think of it i'd be a bit distrustful of anything law enforcement wanted me to install on my system, it would still be a great way for people to help with this.

gamer_marrik
gamer_marrik

Dear God this is hilarious. Owned by a PS3.

Omaciel
Omaciel

IT ONLY DOES EVERYTHING what more do you need

kastilho
kastilho

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

kastilho
kastilho

FF_fan2004 i aggre with you