When we first wrote about the PSJailbreak tool
– the latest in a series of purported hacks intended to circumvent the PlayStation 3's robust security precautions – we suggested that it might be a hoax. Notably, the screens shown to illustrate the tool at work were straight from a debug PlayStation 3; the same kind of PS3 that's designed
to run un-signed code off of things like hard drives and the like. It turns out we were partially correct. The always excellent Digital Foundry has weighed in
on the topic and the takeaway is simple: "the PlayStation 3's much vaunted security has finally been completely and unequivocally compromised."
And how is it compromised? DF writes that the presence of the debug options "suggests that elements of the bespoke system updates used on the debug PS3s are being injected into the memory of the retail unit." That coupled with the USB stick, which DF posits was likely reverse-engineered from the same "USB-based tools Sony uses to test and recover PS3s with corrupt firmware."
So, it's real ... what's next? This is the PlayStation 3 we're talking about, so ... a mandatory firmware update! Sure, an update designed to protect the console is practically the definition of when a mandatory update is appropriate. DF writes, "We can fully expect a mandatory firmware update to emerge from [Sony's] engineering labs within days of the firm dissecting the hack, doubtless rendering it useless." But what about that USB stick? Like the PSP's Pandora battery, a motherboard revision will likely be necessary to render the USB approach inert and, as long as it's available and users stay off of PSN, they could continue on their illicit way.
PSN! Can't Sony tell which users have used the hack and ban them from the service ... or worse, ban their entire console? DF says that's "not beyond the realms of possibility" and PS3Hax reports
that Sony could log usage of the "Backup manager game ID (LAUN-12345)" if signed into PSN. It's likely that none of this matters since, as reported by CVG
, PSJailbreak is already sold out ... even at its steep $130 asking price. Considering how easily copied the USB hardware would be, and the probably short lifespan of the software hack thanks to an upgradeable system and vigilant Sony engineers, we're inclined to agree with DF. "The makers of PSJailbreak are charging so high a price because the window of opportunity in terms of exclusivity and the longevity of the hack itself is potentially very small."