PS3 withstands hack challenge

Competition ends with no hackers up to the challenge

There was only one winner of an international challenge that offered a PlayStation 3 to any hacker able to attack it: Sony. Over the two-month-long competition, the PlayStation 3 was able to withstand numerous attempts by hackers worldwide, proving to the competition organiser its potential use as a server.

The challenge was first issued in November 2007 by Japanese Web host Shimpinomori to test the security of the PlayStation 3 Open Platform and the viability of using it as a heavy-duty server platform. Results came as a pleasant surprise to Shimpinomori founder, Augustin Vidovic.

"I was half expecting that someone would find a crack in the Linux setup, and it did not happen," he said. "Nobody could hack into the PS3."

And it wasn't for lack of trying. Standard hack attempts have left Vidovic with more than one gigabyte of logs full of what he calls 'unimaginative' attempts on the HTTP. Other hackers attempted brute force attacks on the SSH port.

According to Vidovic, the most notable hack attempt exploited a limitation in the number of simultaneous SSH connections that could be supported on the PS3, in order to prevent other challenge participants to connect to the SSH for a few hours.

The challenge was called to a halt on 2 January 2007 with the PS3 emerging unscathed. Vidovic said this proved the PS3's abilities to run continuously for extended periods of time without any heat problems, and can be trusted to be a good, reliable and secure server.

Vidovic now owns three PS3 machines, one of which will be used as a server, the second as an experiment development platform for the Cell processor, and the third as a game console. He is currently also researching applications and methods to set up a PS3 as a server.

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Liz Tay

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