PS3 hackers make breakthroughs - Report

Citing inspiration from removal of OtherOS option, coders deduce security keys that could irrevocably open system up to homebrew, piracy.


While the Wii has its own unauthorized Homebrew Channel and Microsoft plays whack-a-mole with pirates on the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3 has remained a relatively secure system for Sony. That could soon change, as BBC News is reporting on new breakthroughs made by hackers that threaten to crack the PS3 wide open for people to install and run unauthorized software on the system, from homebrew applications to pirated games and custom firmware.

Hackers are proclaiming victory over PS3 security.
Hackers are proclaiming victory over PS3 security.

The breakthroughs came from a group of hackers known as fail0verflow, and George Hotz, who originally gained notoriety for jailbreaking the iPhone. Speaking at a hacker conference in Berlin last month, fail0verflow members pointed out flaws with the PS3's security and explained a method that could be used to determine security keys, numbers that tell the system a given bit of code has been approved by Sony to run on the console.

That was followed shortly by Hotz discovering and disseminating the system's master key. While Hotz had previously used an exploit with the system's OtherOS feature to run unauthorized software on the PS3 (an exploit that was addressed when Sony removed the feature from the system), the release of the master key causes problems that aren't easily fixed with a firmware update.

"The complete console is compromised - there is no recovery from this," a member of fail0verflow going by the handle pytey told the BBC, saying that the only way for Sony to fix the problem would be in future hardware iterations of the PS3. He added that Sony's removal of the OtherOS option from the PS3 Slim drew the hacking community's attention, and the firmware upgrade to take the feature out of the original model PS3s outright antagonized them, making the previously secure system a target for hackers.

Neither fail0verflow nor Hotz condones piracy, but they all acknowledge that it will be a likely outcome of their recent breakthroughs. As of press time, Sony had not responded to GameSpot's request for comment.

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Avatar image for StraferBiz

Ugh if everyone started going for piracy Sony will go bankrupt = no games. They cost alot of money for a reason

Avatar image for HT89488

@Odines_Fury I agree with you, very few games are worth a purchase these days. I wait usually several weeks for either a solid review or a gathering of my own assessment before any purchases. Sad to say, but 7/10 times PC or Xbox 360 games are being released unfinished, plagued with bugs that ruin your game experience and then being told from the developer to wait, we are working on it! Then come to find out the patch never works, ....etc. .. etc... I am sure many of you know what I am talking about...Fallout New Vegas was the more prominent ones.

Avatar image for Odins_Fury

@Ur_Daddy_711 If you want to spend 60 dollars on a game that lasts 4 to 6 hours then by all means knock yourself out my friend. You know what I remember? A time where games were finished products and they took time and effort to complete. Now we live in a time where devolpers make their games 6 hours long and throw in about 300 collectibles and expect you to play it through on five different difficulty levels. I'll rent those games and get the same enjoyment out of them thank you very much.

Avatar image for WarGrad

Sabas is right. Companies hire hackers to find flaws in their software or create viruses to better anti-virus software. They need people with those expertise to help deal with issues before they really start. @huskerman you do need to understand that some hackers/crackers take the high road and help companies succeed by helping to create a better product. Then there are those who find ways to cheat the system and the public by screwing everyone's hard work by trying to get something for nothing. Like those who download and play pirated games, music, or movies.

Avatar image for huskerman34

Hey Sabas choose your words wisely. Your opening statement makes you much just as stupid as a non European or euro peon What this fool did was wrong. So wrong that Sony was able to confiscate his computers. Hacking cracking its all wrong. These companies have Quality assurance and control. So Stfu

Avatar image for sabas10

For all dumb people or non-Europeans, the hacker conferences are meant to show big companies (Apple, Sony) not how easy it is to hack their devices, but how to PREVENT them from hacking. Most people think hackers hack consoles to get free games, but this is not true. Those are crackers, not hackers. The one who download and plays them are pirates. But the good ol' hackers most of the time don't want to do any damage, they only want to help developers or do certain things that will only be win-win. Other words: PS3 may be hacked, but pirates cannot start yet.

Avatar image for sabas10

And the last save heaven for developers that want to earn money for bad quality games has fallen. Respect for the hackers. What Sony ofcourse could do is lower it's prices. But they are too smart (or dumb) for this: They will keep their high prices as long as it's not possible to download them free and safe.

Avatar image for woonsa

3 cheers for the hackers!

Avatar image for ClaudiusCaesar

@mikepp83 That's not Sony's fault. That's because the tariff set by the government.

Avatar image for Blazers420

@mikepp83 Wow ! That's a huge jump in prices. Being a gamer in Brazil is an expensive hobby but your still living in Brazil so it isn't all bad :) I live in Canada , there is a foot of snow outside. A nice beach in Brazil sounds like heaven right now.

Avatar image for mikepp83

@ Blazers420 Brazil, us dollar is around 1,69, we pay 270 for a ps3 game, 1200 for the ps3 console.

Avatar image for Blazers420

@mikepp83 What country do you live in and what is the value of your currency in US dollars? I'm just curious as things may be misleading. I can say a can of coke is $1 (US) but I can also say a can of coke is $250 Guyanese dollars or $0.99 Canadian. Either way, it still is the same can and is the same US dollar.

Avatar image for Blazers420

Too bad hackers can't actually do anything positive for the public. Show me the real files from Area 51, JFK, Pax Americana,9-11. Someone mentioned that hackers only do things like this cause Sony said it couldn't be done. Well, I'm sure the CIA and other agencies have made the same claims. Try those guys on for size instead of a phone and a video game console. Arguing on some moral/technical grounds...HYPOCRITES !

Avatar image for luna_chanfui

Good job Microsoft. Allow me to play so many pirated games~ :p

Avatar image for hampton2003

"hackers conference in Berlin".... lmao.

Avatar image for seekerofkiwi

@Danagan So what your saying is that there are no advertising and other avenues of sales in the gaming industry? Which is completely false. There is advertisement in games. There is merchandise to sell. There is also online gaming, which basically require you to have a valid CD key or game to play.

Avatar image for m4t3u5LP

lol hackers vs a multy billion dollar company... :P

Avatar image for advanracer

LMAo. So now these guyz are being sued by Sony?! WTF?!! So much for Trying to Get a Job at Sony. FML

Avatar image for hannify

Just hire these people Sony, don't be a group of donkeys.

Avatar image for juan99692k6

why people can't just play old school games with the emulators! a friend of mine has 4 emulators for his ps3 (nintendo, snes,sega genesis,gba) and still buys ps3 games and plays online. that way SONY wont lose $$$ and there would be no lawsuits.

Avatar image for isshiah

i don't condone stealing but your moms PIN number is....

Avatar image for mikepp83

well people, there are few things you dont know, at least in us, europe japan, the games are around 60 dolares 54 euros, in my country for example a ps3 game costs 3 times this amount, as well as ps2, for that reason there they have most of the ps2 modded, and they sell hundreds of ps3 jailbreak everyday , cos if pay 60 dolares for a ps3 game is a lot of money. imagine pay 150 dolares for the same game.

Avatar image for killer690

There is always a crack, and we all hate and fear hackers, until we all want something for free.

Avatar image for Warlord_Irochi

@redskinStu 100% agree. this people can come with a million justifications for this; but at the end it's all about getting everything for free, enjoying it, not paying a single cent for it and, at the end, having a scuse when you write lines like the ones i just wrote.

Avatar image for Warlord_Irochi

"Neither fail0verflow nor Hotz condones piracy" But they will share they knowledge with everyone whiling to do it. All salute hipocricy at it's finest.

Avatar image for darksecrets2383

also i have to comment how would hackers mess up the gaming for gamers? Sony as most computer companies have a security team to deal with this.Sony doesnt make the games so its not going to hault game developement.i applaud the hacker community if they crack the ps3 maybe sony should have been one up on them and it wouldnt have happened

Avatar image for darksecrets2383

its funny how people think hackers are people who sit on a computer in there moms basement showing off to friends about cracking open a game console maybe back in the day it started out like that but with reseach i think you can see its much larger than that now.

Avatar image for Dracoger

1) when others are held by morality, remember, Nothing is true, everything is permitted. what we may think about hackers, wont stop them. 2)In my country some ppl are selling some USB-looking-device that works as a jailbreak key, and u could use any game stored on the HDD, its been out over a year but still not very popular since noone wants to risk their ps3 supposedly it works on any ps3 including slims, but needs 3.5 firmware dunno if it actually works havent tried it out

Avatar image for AmongShadows

Viva PS3!

Avatar image for Valen_Ca

@redskinStu That's not true, stuff like this is also of interest to people in the digital security field as well as to hackers that just want to see how far they can push the system.

Avatar image for wiidsduelpack

Playstation + can solve this problem. This pirates should be chased just like Assange is being held hostage

Avatar image for yazter

LOL @ the OtherOS removal justification. Let it be known that: 1) the first "hack" was through OtherOS. 2) OtherOS was taken down from Slim PS3s long before GeoDolt did the famous "hack," - and that was only to cut costs (same with PS2 thingie). So yeah, it was a dumb justification.

Avatar image for redskinStu

This stuff is only of interest to those dudes who feel entitled to free stuff. While the rest of us pay, they feel music, movies, games etc. are supposed to be free for them.

Avatar image for BigBoi17

If there is anything that can kill the momentum of gaming....It's these dumb-ass hackers. Does anybody see where this could lead to? I'll put it in the form of a question.... Do you want consoles to have technology that benefits gaming and the gamers that play them? Or do you want consoles made to stop hackers first and caters to gamers second? If you're one of those dumb-asses that wants to pretend to be a smart-ass, please don't answer...

Avatar image for D_Bug

Sony's undoing was removing the otherOS function. That's what prompted this group to crack the ps3, and if it had stayed available, who knows, maybe the PS3 would have held off hackers for even longer. Now all they can aim for is damaged limitations and try and find a way to prevent it with updates, but the signs don't look good.

Avatar image for AceBalls

We're in a day and age where even if the programmer locked himself out of his final mastercode, someone will always find a way in.

Avatar image for Kan0nF0dder

GS seems to love the hacking story when Sony is the target....every single 360 hax0r story had a very negative slant on it, why the positive 'clap on the back, well done' feel for this story?

Avatar image for night-dreamers

that's old news gamespot

Avatar image for tmorri603

As long as there are theives everthing will get hacked. It was only a matter of time. The only reason that they do this stuff is because they know that they will find people who will by pirated stuff. The only way to really stop them is if people stop buying pirated things but we all know that's not going to happen.

Avatar image for grand17

lol hackers will break into anything so i dont see how this is news really but it is funny

Avatar image for Kruiz_Bathory

heh, I see some changes in these reports.

Avatar image for EddyG0RD0

Funny how come GameSpot is so open minded now with piracy especially that its about PS3 , i HATE GS.

Avatar image for hige21

@sidewinder2617 for sony if u play psx games is like ur pirate couse then u will not buy them from them again on the psn

Avatar image for supernova8463


Avatar image for sidewinder2617

allright. So i don't condone ISO's and pirated modern age software. but i feel that this can be a good thing. with this the ps3 may receive a decent CFW that can offer the user some simple things that other ps3's cant at the moment. I predict otherOS will make a return, hoping for custom soundtraks in game via this hack. Also the possibility of reserve play of psp game on the system is a possibility. one hack out there allowed people to play there game back ups on the psp via remote play, for almost any game. i mostly just want to see otherOS come back, and possibly some cool homebrew games. i keep itching for doom to be on my ps3 and a slew of emulators. mario with a sony controler makes me giddy just thinking about. but other than that i don't believe i'll use it to play pirated games, atleast new ones. some ps2/psx era games at the newest. just depends what hackers can get the processors of the ps3 to run. ps3 bootlegs take up too much space on the drive almost anyways, unless one expanded its drive. theres got to be some happy middle ground. But this hacking will also result in some very not so good things. people will be copying ps3 game/ blu ray discs a little easier providing they have the space for it. if they made it be able to run them off an external drive they'd be almost limitless with space. various dumb people might try the hack once its better released and this could make a lot of bricked ps3's. i'm just hoping for a few neat little features. other OS as possibly windows would be cool if ever. snes,gba,gb,mame,genesis and psx/ps2 emulation. also some dreamcast stuff could be cool, maybe original xbox. just depends how much juice the hackers making homebrew can get out of the system. halo on a ps3 controler would be badass. most homebrew will probably be fairly basic though, just look at the psp scene. wouldn't mind playing psp games on my ps3 at all. that would actually kinda be bad ass if done properly... so in essence, its what you as a gamer choose to do...just don't get caught..

Avatar image for KrazzyDJ

I suppose if it weren't for piracy, even crappy games would be making money, thereby encouraging their developers to make more of them !!!

Avatar image for jamiejacobs218

This wouldn't happen if games weren't sixty dollars.

Avatar image for MW2GhoST

I switched to PS3 because I was sick of getting modded on 360... thanks to all the hackers who clearly have nothing better to do than sit around in their mom's basements and prove to themselves and their 2 friends that they are the king of consoles, all you do is ruin the console for everyone else.

Avatar image for QuiCkz_Alex

Great News

Avatar image for awheaten

This goes to show you that anything can be hacked. I don't care what kind of processor or security software is used. If it is man made, it can be reverse engineered and exposed. Sony shouldn't be ashamed of this. For them to have held off hackers this long, they deserve some merrit.