Console Hacking

Kristen Hewes - Hardware Technician

I wanted to take a sidetrack today into hacking, not of computers, but of consoles. The big news this week is that the Sony Playstation 3 was laid bare, with its root key revealed to the world.

Legitimate games and discs run on a system because they provide a signature to the encryption system which recognizes them as authentic software.  The algorithm revealed bypasses all of that.  Console hacking has been around for a long time; the Sega Dreamcast was the first big target for it and the original xbox was also heavily hacked.

Why hack a game console you ask?

Well, the hackers themselves are adamant it is not about piracy, but about the rush of hacking a product.  In the case of the PS3, it is to get back something they lost.  The PS3 used to run otherOS, which allowed people to install other OS’s like Linux or FreeBSD on them. Sony then removed this with the PS3 Slim and through software updates for the older models.

Well, now they can get it back.

The other big part of hacking these consoles is the piracy aspect: people like free stuff and they don’t always care who it hurts.  I spent many years in the gaming industry and know how hard developers work and the blood and sweat that goes into it.  Yes, the big gaming companies post massive sales for games and seem to make a lot of money.  But, the smaller guys get buy on the products they sell, and we could lose lots of the inventive smaller indie companies from piracy.

The hackers of the PS3 say that Sony cannot fix this hack, but that remains to be seen.