Whatever happened to the idea of “you bought it, you can do whatever you want with it”? You buy a car and want to add all sorts of silly aftermarket modifications like it’s 2004 and Pimp My Ride is still relevant? Feel free! But no, you buy a video game console, explore its inner workings, maybe discover and exploit or security vulnerability and The Man wants you silenced. In this case, The Man is Sony, and they are none too pleased that evildoer hackers released details of PS3 security flaws, flaws that could lead to sinister developments. I guess.
You’ll recall that the PS3 was essentially hacked to bits, with the results having been released at the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin a few weeks ago. The “reason” why hackers decided to target the PS3 is because Sony removed the “install other OS” option. (Lesson learned: don’t upset the Linux crowd!) Bottom line is, it turns out that the PS3, for all its supposed super-duper security credentials, really wasn’t all that special to begin with.
Which brings us to today. Well, yesterday. Sony has, in the words of Engadget, attempted to “shove the genie back in the bottle,” filing a temporary restraining order in order to pressure the system’s hackers into removing all traces of the exploit from the Internet.
So far, so good: Geohot, who’s pretty much the face of the hacking operating, has already removed the offending material from the Web. Chilling effects, etc.
It’s actually pretty scary when you consider what’s going on. The PS3 is as secure as swiss cheese, a team publishes this information, then Sony says, “Hey, wait a minute, you’re violating all sorts of laws that are in place to protect so we’re going to try to go back in time to when this information never existed.” But it does exist!
To be clear, I’d never advocate the hacking of a PS3 for the express purpose of piracy, but I do, as a hacking enthusiast (not that I am a hacker, but I support the spirit of hacking), appreciate the efforts of people trying to tinker away at the system.
A quick look around the Internet (it’s probably uncouth to directly link to these sites) suggests that it’s fairly easy to flash your PS3 with an “open” firmware, with which you can do whatever.
So if the information is out there, why even bother? Outside of a few teenagers with too much time on their hands, who’s going to sit there, troll through message boards, download and compile software, and on and on and on.