Sony’s reaction to the complete compromise of the PS3’s security is to launch a wave of lawsuits against the hackers responsible, whilst speculation about them mounting a Microsoft-style mass ban of pirates and hackers is mounting.
After the release of the initial “jailbreak” was the subject of a brief cat-and-mouse game of crack and counter-patch, PS3 hackers crowed that they had irreversibly cracked the PS3’s encryption system, throwing the console open to all manner of potential hacks, cracks and cheats (a few bearded freaks may even attempt to run Linux on it again).
Sony is predictably none to pleased about all this – its response has been to take legal action against the crackers, alleging violations of the DMCA and various other laws and demanding a temporary restraining order be placed on the hackers in order to stop them distributing their work online or otherwise.
With much of the information already public and further details and the inevitable piracy tools easily leakable through anonymous channels familiar to pirates, Sony’s chances of posing anything more than a short term hindrance to the development of piracy on the PS3 seem negligible – although it did experience moderate success in shutting down crack hawkers.
Its actions to date seem to demonstrate it has a formidable ability to monitor user activity (if they sign into PSN) and can remotely ban and “brick” consoles at will, but that it is as yet very reluctant to do so.
Although its reaction so far has only been to block PSN access to active pirates and rely instead on security patches, with the ruin of its underlying security architecture there is potential for all kinds of new cracks – Sony may soon feel mass bans are the lesser evil, particularly if confronted with hordes of pirates stealing DLC and cheating in multiplayer, the inevitable result of the kindly hackers’ efforts.
The PS3’s ability to spy on user activity is already formidable – the most sophisticated example of this being the ability of the PS3 to snoop on the videos a user plays on the device to discover if they come from an unauthorised source using secretly embedded watermarks, and refuse to play them if so.
The technology is even effective on camera recordings of the protected works – if Sony bothers with anything near this level of sophistication in detecting pirates, it may be in a position to ban vast numbers of users should they unwisely take their console online.
None of this has any real impact on offline consoles however, so the anti-piracy effect seems likely to be limited at best.
Whilst hackers and the mass of pirates they rather unconvincingly claim to have nothing to do with have apparently won a crushing and total victory, Sony has nonetheless managed to keep the PS3 platform piracy-free for longer than virtually any other comparable system – a technical achievement rather more impressive than the inevitable cracking of their protection.