It’s becoming more clear that Sony’s new Playstation 3 is not just a toy for gamers, but a toy for hackers as well. We’ve seen it with past consoles. Hackers always manage to create “hacks” and “mods”, despite the claims by gaming console manufacturers that their new system is resistant to piracy. What makes the PS3 vulnerable to attacks?
The answer to this question lies in the PS3′s heart, the ’Cell‘ processor. The Cell processor started out as a joint project of Toshiba, Sony and IBM in 2000, and today is powering the PS3. IBM states the Cell’s security architecture is designed to prevent only software based attacks, so modding a PS3 would require a hardware addition or modification.
Hardware modding is the fundamental tool of all hackers. Once they have physical access to the PS3 the fun can begin.
The PS3 could not have made this easier, as many owners have already swapped out the PS3′s hard drive for a larger one with reports of the system accepting and formatting the new drive. This may seem like a small start to modding, but to hackers, it’s a wide open door. Is Sony’s Phil Harrison hinting that this is the best way to hack the PS3 when he says: “I’d be amazed if the Playstation 4 has a physical disk drive.”
Methods similar to the XBox 360 hack (where the authentication protocol between the optical disc drive and the console have been attacked) have been the number one thought on hacker’s minds, judging by posts at various sites.
One idea is that a Blu-Ray disk could be simulated by using a laptop and a Blu-Ray emulator. As the Blue-Ray application programming interface is publicly available, this attack may be one of the first seen.