PlayStation 3 hack released online

After more than three years on sale the first crack in the PS3's digital armour appears

Days after announcing he'd managed to hack Sony's PlayStation 3 console to run his own software, George Hotz has released the exploit online.

Hotz, who is best known for cracking Apple's iPhone, said in a blog posting that he had decided to release the exploit to see what others could do with it and because he wanted to move on to other work.

"Hopefully, this will ignite the PS3 scene, and you will organize and figure out how to use this to do practical things, like the iPhone when jailbreaks were first released," he wrote. "I have a life to get back to and can't keep working on this all day and night."

On Friday Hotz said he had managed to hack the PlayStation 3 after five weeks of work with "very simple hardware cleverly applied, and some not so simple software."

PlayStation 3 consoles typically only run software that has been digitally signed by Sony. It's part of the complex digital rights management system designed to thwart software piracy but the hack represents a first crack in that digital protection.

With the release of the exploit online many programmers will likely start to examine the PlayStation 3 for ways to get deeper into the system. For some the prime goal will be to crack the encryption system that ensures illegally copied games cannot be played on the console while others will likely be motivated by the technical challenge of running their own software on the powerful PlayStation 3 platform.

"The PS3 is hacked, it's your job to figure out something useful to do with it," wrote Hotz in a zip file included with the exploit.

The exploit Hotz has found works with the PlayStation 3's OtherOS feature that allows a second operating system to be installed on the machine. This feature was discontinued on newer model machines, the so-called "PS3 Slim" consoles.

Sony is also examining the code. Its Tokyo-based gaming unit, Sony Computer Entertainment, said it is looking into the claims made by Hotz and declined to comment until it has finished its investigation.

If the software is improved upon then Sony could be pushed to release a firmware update that plugs the hole or holes through which Hotz attacked the system.

That's what happened when Hotz cracked the iPhone. Apple began a virtual cat-and-mouse with developers and would rush out system updates as soon as new versions of the iPhone Jailbreak software were published.

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Martyn Williams

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