Sony Sues PS3 Hackers, “Can Ban Pirates At Any Time”


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.

Meanwhile, a significant amount of speculation rages about whether Sony will engage in mass bans of PS3 pirates as Microsoft has done extensively.

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.

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    Comment by Anonymous
    00:11 13/01/2011 # ! Good (+0.8)

    The really interesting question is that given the amount of effort Sony put into locking down their product, was it worth it?

    Did Sony's sales improve as a consequence?

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:55 13/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    The immediate answer would be 'no'.

    There has been noticeable increase in overall games sales, make no mistake. Then again, the market today is larger than it was just over a decade ago. The internet boom means people talk about things more often, carrying along the hype and publicity with them. New demographics are opening up, and more games are produced, aimed at these new demographics(casuals, more female friendly games, online gaming).

    Nintendo's Gamecube, for its time, was near unpirateable thanks to proprietary disc format so different from anything else out there(even now, the only possible way is PC emulation, but not all games are compatible and not all PCs can run with decent settings), yet it still lost to the graphically inferior PS2 that used standard DVD. Why?

    It's difficult to see Sony's reasons for spending so much on anti-piracy measures, other than just plain gluttony and greed. This isn't just about trying to convert those otherwise pirate transactions into profitable ones. If Sony manages to conceive a perfect anti-piracy measure so effective that it takes 20 years to crack, they'd be able to make more money selling licenses to use that anti-piracy measure to other companies.

    Not saying that piracy is really something to be pardoned with, but looking back at 1997-2000 when great games still sell like crazy amidst rampant piracy(great games that still sell until today, too!), I can't help but to wonder....

    Avatar of Artefact
    Comment by Artefact

    100% legitimate sales is bound to increase their profits. It's not possible to know how much effort they invested in DRM, but unless it was huge it seems likely to have paid off.

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:48 13/01/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Sorry, Artefact, but it has not 'paid off'. Even the companies who USE DRM have said that it has HURT their sales as people wait until a crack comes out for the game and then buy it, not wanting to deal with the DRM possibly hosing their systems.

    That is on PC, by the way.

    On consoles, people just wait for six months or more until the thing is in the bargain basement bin and then pick up the game in question.

    If the idiots would realize that 60 dollars is TOO GODDAMNED MUCH FOR A GAME, even in rich America and LOWERED THE PRICE, many of the pirates would go legit.

    Avatar of Sodium Chloride
    Comment by Sodium Chloride
    00:27 13/01/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    I wonder this myself.

    It would be kind of stupid if they didn't do some kind of business case analysis (or whatever they call it) before dropping millions on it.

    And everyone from the music industry to the movie inustry to the book industry seem to have an obsession with DRM to combat piracy as well.

    Avatar of james
    Comment by james
    22:49 12/01/2011 # ! Good (+0.6)

    i still don't understand why the root key had to be posted for the world to see, so fuck u managed to hack the ps3, give u'rself a fucking medal. but don't fucking in-convenience gamers u dont give a fuck about u'r bull-shit life choices and who actually enjoy giving the games industry their hard earned cash.

    Comment by Anonymous

    I don't understand your reasoning.
    Why would information useful to better utilize the potential of a piece of hardware being published inconvenience its users?

    Comment by Anonymous

    what gamers are being hurt by the release of the root key. The people that haven't jailbroken their ps3s are completely unaffected by this and people using the jailbreak dongle were not effected because they were on 3.41 and couldn't (I think) use the PSN. The only people that the release affects are the people that benefited from it because of the release of 3.55 custom firmware.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:37 12/01/2011 # ! Good (+0.6)

    cute... the large hacker groups haven't bothered with cracking the PS3 till Sonys dumb move to kill the otherOS option, till then only small fry and poser 'tried' to crack the PS3s security. After that the hacker groups needed only some weeks to create bootable but yet unplayable DVDs and much later with help of the information of the dongle completely running versions. If Sony hadn't removed the otherOS feature chances are the PS3 wouldn't have been cracked till now.

    Avatar of Sodium Chloride
    Comment by Sodium Chloride
    01:09 13/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    What I'm going to say is going to be unpopular.

    You can blame the famous Geohot for that.

    He started hacking the PS3 through the damned "Other OS" and got the thing removed.

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:46 13/01/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Ah, bullcrap! That is something that Sony claimed in order to make it appear that they really had a reason to remove this tool that a lot of people used.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:14 12/01/2011 # ! Good (+0.6)

    As the hackers themselves pointed out, the duration for which the protection held has nothing to do with a technical achievement and everything to do with there being to reason to hack it while OtherOS was around.

    Avatar of Artefact
    Comment by Artefact

    Nonsense. Piracy groups were claiming to be on the verge of hacking it for years - but they never managed it. Using Linux as an excuse is just a way for them to save face.

    Avatar of mirumu
    Comment by mirumu
    14:15 13/01/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Piracy groups are talentless amateurs who can only follow where others have led. The years of the PS3's poor security going un-hacked are proof of that. Removing OtherOS though affected a completely different group of people. Those using PS3 clusters for supercomputer experimentation in universities and military environments. People who run Linux on their console because they can. People who hack things for fun. People who actually understand cryptography better than Sony does apparently.

    What is nonsense is likening these people to piracy groups. You might as well be likening kids who play with bottle rockets to "rocket scientists".

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:41 13/01/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Not nonsense. Even some people who WORK FOR SONY were saying that was the thing that kept people from actively trying to hack the machine.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:08 13/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Techdirt, Anandtech, Tom's Hardware.... seriously, it's not hard to find these things. Learn some Japanese and you could probably find even more.

    Avatar of Artefact
    Comment by Artefact


    Avatar of Barbarian of Gor
    Comment by Barbarian of Gor
    04:32 13/01/2011 # ! Good (+0.4)

    I'm for the hackers. I don't per se agree with 'stealing' their games, but---

    1. There should be no ability to keep out "Homebrew" and "Competition".
    2. Likewise, region locks, spying on customers, etc. should be forbidden.

    I find it truly amazing as much as obscene how "Capitalists" like to champion a "Free Market" such as when they send jobs overseas, but on anything that could affect them shriek for the "Nanny state" and "Corporate Welfare" to protect them.

    Frankly, these Capitalists nurture "False Economies", taking from society to profit themselves. A big part of it is controlling multiple markets and locking them down from competition, "Monopoly" in other words.

    If they make a game system, they should be forced to ONLY do that. Make the console, sell it at a profit, perhaps make peripherals/accessories, provide access to networks for additional profits. Since they made the system, perhaps they can make the best games for it, but those games shouldn't be theirs only.

    Companies that make games have been drunk on power ever since Nintendo pushed through it's chip racket, using stories of the great video game crash to justify it.

    Frankly, the straw the broke the camel's back on the earlier glut wasn't "Homebrew"/"3rd party" it was the "Big Corporate" system putting out drek and trash, notably E.T. and Pac-Man for a console 10 years mature at the time.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:14 13/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Some countries are saying that religion locks are illegal and should be forbidden. It's just an attempt to get people to buy the more expensive home country thing...... they are going to have to realize we live in a INTERNATIONAL MARKET today and start pricing everything the same in different countries.

    Avatar of mirumu
    Comment by mirumu
    15:16 13/01/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Where I live in New Zealand region locks are legal, but it is also legal to break them. There's plenty of games that are never released here so being able to play games from other regions is essential.

    I've got to give credit to Sony here for making the PS3 region-free for games. It's the main reason I prefer to get multi-platform games on the PS3 rather than the 360 which is region locked.

    04:06 13/01/2011 # ! Good (+0.4)

    Legally Sony can ban hacked P3's from the PSN but they can't brick them.
    If they go bricking them on purpose they'll face a class action lawsuit.
    Really if they wish to end this assault on their console then put linux back on and fire,and blackball the idiot or idiots who made that brainless decision to remove it.
    If they think they can use DMCA to stop the neck beards they'll have a very unpleasant surprise coming these guys also know the legal system well see Apple's defeat.
    BTW I been boycotting sony because of the removal of other OS and guess what it cost them $2500 in lost sales as that what I spent with companies since last April.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:39 12/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.3)

    Lol at the end bit about Sony keeping the PS3 piracy-free for years. What a joke. The hackers didn't bother with the PS3 at all until 12 months ago when Sony decided to remove Linux support. Sony angered the hacking community by doing so, and in 12 months they hacked the PS3 and also exposed Sony's sloppy security features which included a random number generator that always returned the same number!

    Avatar of Ota-Kool
    Comment by Ota-Kool
    23:55 12/01/2011 # ! Neutral (-0.2)

    It only needed to research a MOD Chip for the PS3.

    Avatar of Artefact
    Comment by Artefact

    Falsehoods. I remember them saying years ago "it'll be cracked soon." Trying to blame Sony for provoking them is spurious.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:20 12/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.3)

    "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."

    Ehhh no. If you've done your research you should know that the only reason the PS3 has remained unhacked so far was because of the Linux install option. Hackers were only spurred into action when Sony decided to remove it for whatever retarded reason.

    Giving people what they want in the first place was a better hack deterrent than any technological measure could have been, something that Sony was apparently too stupid to realize.

    Avatar of Bear
    Comment by Bear
    22:42 12/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Sony has been playing nice with the hackers in the other os perios. Remember that even if you installed linux (which is open source) but the hardware; ps3 is not open source.

    That is exactly what the hackers broke during that era.

    Comment by Anonymous

    Your acting as if the hackers themselves didn't prompt Sony to remove otherOS. Remember that the hackers were using otherOS to gain access to the rest of the system. And those same hackers are claiming they didn't hack the PS3 until otherOS was removed.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:41 13/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    Uhhhh yeah... and they didn't, did they? Have you ever really heard of anyone actually hacking the PS3 until now? The only ones who have actually been trying until they removed it were the pirates, who just weren't smart enough.

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:06 13/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    OtherOS ran on top of a heavily restricting hypervisor. Of course people would want to be able to utilize the full potential of the machine they bought.

    Avatar of Hakufu
    Comment by Hakufu
    12:08 13/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Artefact. I know you love to get people to read your articles by using the word piracy. But the PS3 hacking that took place with the private keys have nothing to do with piracy. Yes they enable it as byproduct. Hell what hacked console has ever been hacked without piracy being included? It sucks but it happens. But this new law suit is because Sony are scared to death because of how open the system is now. So they are using straw man arguments in the law suit's documents. You want proof? Go to psx-scene and download all the documents. They cite sources of Geohot trying to extort them for a job. Which he only said "Contact me if you three want to secure your consoles better, it would be fun to work on the other side." It was never meant to be an extortion scheme but they turned it into one.

    They also cite piracy when Geohot has an active stance in rejecting piracy on the PS3. He has even gone so far as to tell everyone that if you mess with the kernal in the PS3 he can almost guarantee a brick. These are just some examples of the stupidity Sony are pushing as fact.

    But why don't you report on all the facts instead of automatically being bias about the whole thing? This is why Geohot is in this situation to begin with. Because sites like this have to spin the story to make it look like all the people care about is piracy.

    Avatar of Artefact
    Comment by Artefact
    13:45 13/01/2011 # ! Questionable

    You're defending someone trying to blackmail a company into giving him money so he won't break their security?

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:50 13/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Artefact, you are being purposefully obtuse there, and I am beginning to wonder whether you work for Sony.

    Telling someone that you can help them make their console more secure is NOT the same thing as "GIVE ME A JOB OR I'LL CRACK YOUR MACHINE!"

    Only in your DELUDED mind is it that.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:07 30/01/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    You just had to say that Artefact, the one with a TRIANGLE as his pic was being obtuse didn't you -_-

    Avatar of Kyorisu
    Comment by Kyorisu
    15:22 13/01/2011 # ! Neutral (-0.2)

    He didn't try to blackmail anybody. What Geohot wrote on his site wasn't threatening or promising anything. He was merely joking that working for Sony he could help to make their next console secure.

    Artefact really dude. Tone the bias done and join us back in the land of REALITY. Geohot has done nothing wrong. Sony are being dicks, lest we forget this is the same company that fought for the rights to sell devices that could copy copyrighted material directly. Geohots work does not directly enable piracy but Sony's products did. Funny that.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:40 15/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Which is why his CFW hack doesn't allow you to run pirated games unless you patch them yourself.

    Avatar of Artefact
    Comment by Artefact

    He's an obnoxious self-publicist. Reality and common sense suggest the only reason he or anyone else cares about hacking the PS3 is to enable piracy.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:19 14/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    This is like car manufacturers suddenly suing every mechanically-inclined car owner ever for doing an engine swap on their own car.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:43 14/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Wow you fucks have your facts all wrong. For one the custom firmware out there at this time does NOT in any way support nor condone or allow in any way piracy. The only device that might as well be dedicated to piracy are the dongles out there that only work on firmware 3.41 or below which NONE of the new games will work on without some extreme steps. The custom firmware available at this time only supports homebrew and Linux. Get your shit straight before you try to post "news".

    Avatar of H.exe
    Comment by H.exe
    01:36 13/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    i think worst is, for the pirates is just they can't play the games online.

    Avatar of Damian
    Comment by Damian
    02:02 13/01/2011 # ! Good (+0.6)

    if you pirate the games thinking you will play online then you should get busted, i understand sigle player, but multi? buy the original then and dont whine if you get busted.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:39 13/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    To my understanding, bricking consoles deliberately by "update" or something is illegal. I think Microsoft could brick consoles too when they ban cheaters e.g. from XBL but they won't.
    The worst thing Sony could do is just to ban the console from PSN and void the warranty.

    04:22 13/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    In the US it is very illegal to purposely break someone's property.
    It would certainly result in a laws suit and the person who made the decision to brick them could even in theory face criminal charges ie jail time.

    Comment by Anonymous

    exactly but the problem is most owners wouldn't file charges since that would lay open the illegal activities (pirating) they were doing.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:26 13/01/2011 # ! Good (+0.8)

    Any owner can easily say they were just using it for homebrewing purposes, which aren't illegal.

    08:08 13/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    I have homebrew on my wii it was the only way to get youtube working again and use it as a simple media device.

    In the US breaking a device on purpose over a network is looked at the same as if you sent someone in their living room with a sledge hammer.
    This is a much worse crime then downing loading a video game.
    Also in the US it's legal to copy any media so long as you do not redistribute that media without permission of the owner of the copyright.
    Most DRM supporters try to ignore fair use laws.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:54 13/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Microsoft has the banhammer, Sony has the gavel

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:24 13/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Well They finally got hacked and it was said that it couldn't be done well it can and it just did

    Avatar of KingFisher
    Comment by KingFisher
    03:49 13/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    So wait I can't play my digital formated anime on the PS3 because its from an unauthorized source, or I can't play any of my home made dvds I made because it detects it from an unauthorized source? WTF?! That's just stupid. There goes half my reason for owning a PS3.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:54 13/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Well... now you can do whatever you want with it; but I'd understand not wanting to buy a product designed to restrict how you can use it in the first place.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:59 12/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Sony is just protecting it's investment and I as a hacker myself say to them: "Keep it coming guys".

    Avatar of Bear
    Comment by Bear
    23:10 12/01/2011 # ! Good (+0.4)

    You? A hacker? A hacker saying "keep on coming guys"? You're not a hacker lol~ You are just following their tutorial on how to hack from random googled site! wahahahah~

    Avatar of Ota-Kool
    Comment by Ota-Kool
    23:07 12/01/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Go Hackers Go... While you at it, can you plz hack the 3DS so it can play Homebrew and also add a special hack that can use double A or triple A alkaline Battery.

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