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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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  • You know WHY this is right?

    Because Sony has NO online service. Compared to Xbox, the party system, and everything is all pretty much solo-players.

    Who wants to hack a game not ment for lots of ppl/???

  • 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”.

  • “The PS3′s ability to spy on user activity is already formidable”

    this is what i fear for, fuck the hackers, what’s the point a hacking a system that doesn’t even do as much as the PC. oh that’s right it’s for bragging rights or so.

    still i hope PSN won’t be hacked, i don’t want my account being hack watsoever(not to mention they may still use PSN on PS4, that would suck if people try to destroy the service just because some lowly scumbag said so.

  • Has piracy really gotten that bad? I feel like I should be ashamed to call myself a gamer but I’m just mad that these pirates and hackers aren’t thinking of the potential damage they could cause the gaming industry. I don’t want my hobby to vanish! It’s the only thing keeping me sane in this weird world.

  • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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.

  • This will end badly for Sony. It’ll be just like that HD DVD code that was cracked a few years back. Because of the legal pressure put on sites, it brought more attention to it and this will cause the software and codes to spread to places it normally wouldn’t have spread to.

  • Sony can’t brick your console. It’s impossible for them to do so. Even if they could, which they can’t, doing so would be even more illegal then pirating itself.

    Sony can only ban your console, this is the only thing they can do.

    Don’t worry, they won’t ban your account, that would be a serious waste of time since anyone can create an infinite number of accounts if they wish so. Not only that, banning accounts would unfairly ban a lot of people, seeing as you can log in with your account on other PS3. Let’s say you log in on your friend’s ps3 and he had it hacked without telling you, you’d get your account banned for no reason. I imagine it would happen to a lot of people, not just a few.

    So if your console get banned, you can still log in with your account on another PS3.

    Also, they could IP ban, but they won’t do it because too many people have a dynamic IP. Even with a static IP, getting a new IP isn’t even hard.

      • Many country’s laws state that EULAs cannot remove rights granted to you by the law. Doesn’t matter what Sony’s agreements say. Bricking consoles would certainly violate such laws.

        I’ve no doubt they’ll ban accounts if they can detect the hacks, but I’d bet money that they won’t be bricking any.

      • It’s actually impossible for them to brick your console. They can only ban you from PSN.

        Even if they could brick a console, they wouldn’t, because they don’t want a class action lawsuit.

        • Again, you’re wrong. PS3 owners are in a very powerful position as it stands now. All SCEE/SCEA have the right to do is ban people from PSN. The courts would rule against Sony if they ever were taken to court over it.

        • Actually no. They have no right to do anything with YOUR console. Everyone that owns the console bought it. We didn’t sign a lease agreement or a rent agreement like rent a center or other chains do. We straight out bought it. The only thing sony has a say in is PSN. Everything that is tied directly to the console is the owner’s property, and that will be argued and won in court.

          If you honestly think otherwise then you are just as ignorant as 98% of the other people that are commenting here. They are eating your article up as if it’s god himself preaching when you are spouting opinionated BS.

        • Wrong again, Artefact. It is a CRIME to break someone’s console (their property) without their permission, as bricking something for WHATEVER reason would be.

          That is how Microsoft got around the issue, by SOLELY banning people from XBox Live ONLY!

          Get that point? I’m sure it must be sinking in now, unless your work for Sony has brainwashed you!

      • “They can do whatever they like with your console. They control everything it does, and supposedly you agreed to this when you bought it.”

        Sony doesn’t control jack and legally they can’t do anything to my property either. They can remove access to PSN but that’s it. That is of course ignoring the fact my console in particular has never been connected to the PSN.

        Further more I didn’t agree to anything when I bought my console. At no stage during my monetary transaction was I asked to sign a legally binding agreement to say I don’t own the hardware. My console is mine so as I’ve said even if they could remotely disable my PS3 they legally can’t.

  • Understandable.

    I can only say that i don’t give a shit about hacking on PS3. Games are not region locked and that has always been my only complaint.

    Sony can’t prevent piracy forever. Lawsuits will only cost them money. On top of that, all the other consoles were the target of piracy from the beginning.

    PSX and PS2 were heavily pirated over their life-time and yet they proved to be economically successful.

    Bottom line is, Sony can be proud of themselves for having prevented piracy for 3 years. It won’t get any better than that.

    Also, would be kind of funny if sales charts were to skyrocket now that the console has been cracked.

  • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  • 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.

  • And now, GeoHot and fail0verflow released all the keys and programs on the internet, as to confront sony about this.

    I can’t do much but laugh at this situation. Come on, it’s damn hilarious.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

        • 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.

  • PS3 was able to last until recently because it didn’t really boast about its security, and OtherOS is a dream for nerds, no matter how scarce you think it’s used.

    PS3 was sold at launch for over 600 bucks because it’s supposed to be packed with features which they effectively buy along when they purchased the console. Stripping those features away would be like selling someone a car, then forcing the guy to return the car to a shop and remove the air conditioner. I know I would flip.

    Skeptics(or just trolls?) would forever question the effectiveness of the OtherOS application, but it surely was one of the points buzzed during its launch. If you think your anti-piracy measure is so damn great, it should not be hackable with any other vulnerable features that you advertised with in the first place!

  • so they are dropping million on law suits on the grounds of hacking one OWN console (remember this is not piracy, piracy is different, here you bought the damm thing, piracy you make a perfect copy of an existant item)?, mmm… i think its just a look we are trying to do something approach, that or the microsoft way (ban random consoles)

    • 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….

        • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • the damage has already been done and sony can’t really do anything to stop it. the ps3 root key has been discovered and that’s about all there is too it, no amount of lawsuits or banning of users can stop inevitable piracy now.

    this crack isn’t just a exploit or work around, it’s literally like giving the keys to the castle to officially authorize piracy on the ps3. no amount of firmware updates or patches can fix this.

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • Pwn! First thing to remember is the only peeps really using Linux on ps3 is the 1337 crowd. Naturally you take it away from them they will not only be pissy about it, but looking for a good way to say fuck you when it comes to Sony’s wallet.

  • “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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  • Sony did a good job…. Even if the hackers said…. “Fuck sony we already doomed your console, and it is very easy!~”. After years of release they still dare to say it’s easy?

    What will happen if the hackers will continue on homebrew development only and no illegal ps3 game copies? Will sony support them?

    • No, I don’t think so. Pirates will ALWAYS want a free product, and the more crafty ones will find a way to run the games they want.

      Some people will make hombrew to add nice things, I think, but the ones that will want to download free games will find a way to do so.

      • Am not really sure bout that… maybe sony knew the insecurity of their console are somewhat related to the other os feature. Not really sure though…. but the OFW itself, isn’t really strong in terms of blocking hacks.

        Anyway… sony’s linux is fail. Hackers doesn’t really interested in installing other os… They just need a software for them to monitor the console.

        • If Sony knew about the PS3’s security problem all they’d have needed to do was fix their random number generator, and use it when signing their software. I don’t think many realize what a beginner’s mistake Sony made with their encryption code. It’s the kind of thing you’d learn on the first day when studying encryption.

  • 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.

      • 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”.

  • Not all of them hackers are the cause of this problem.

    Attention whore hacker ala GeoHot(who went to BBC) fully intended to increase piracy on the PS3 for fame. He did this by taking other hackers works(the PS3 Jailbreak), and slapped his name on it after they finally unlocked the PS3.

    Fail0verflow(other guys who spearheaded the jailbreak) weren’t guilty as the attention whore said above. Even when they knew how to fully hack the PS3, they didn’t release the PS3s operation documents online, nor did they go to Western media to claim “I DID IT!”.

    • And the real lesson to take from this isn’t that PS3 had better security, it’s that you shouldn’t take away the toys from ‘bearded guys’.

      The effort to defeat the PS3 security system didn’t really start until _AFTER_ Sony decided to remove support for Linux, and from that it took no longer than to crack than 360. So to summarize the lesson learned; don’t give the real talents any reason to target your system.

  • Playing a hacked console is very bad in anyway ,it might causes nothing to Sony but it to the games development organization(likes Gust ,Atlus ,Namco ,Bandai ,and etc) because many people will stop buying games ,they will downloaded instead. So in the further future the games development organization will broke down even if the japanese still buying the games but the games might never be localization cause there will not making any profits to them.

    sorry for the bad english.

  • Shippoyasha says:

    Meh. This is kind of a lost cause since the way it is encoded was totally blown off the hinges for the PS3. The Xbox was a modder’s haven but then 360 help up the modability a little bit. Kind of strange that PS3, thought to be even sturdier at keeping modding at bay than the 360 eventually became less so. Damn those hackers are scary.

    Not sure how this will pan out. If they take out one group, another takes over.. I guess the PSN bannings and bricking is coming. I just hope it doesn’t impact us PS3 owners. I just don’t want my updates to be nothing but security updates all the time..

  • Hope they do win this war against those pirates…grow up a little and buy the fucking games you morons…if you don’t have money get a job so you’ll get money to BUY the things you want including games*that are other people’s work and are what they do for a living*…if even so you don’t have money to buy the games you don’t deserve to play at all…why you should get for free what other people work hard to have? you pirates are no better than the rest of the world, just poorer or just a bunch of teenage jerks that think every thing in life is for free…as for my self i’ll keep buying my ORIGINAL games every time i can…

    • “everyone in the world is in the same situation as i am, anyone that complains should be just like me, i’m so perfect”

      Get out of your high horse. In most countries, ps3 games cost up to 5 times the original (well, north american) price. Not even counting all the places in which there is no PSN service, so they can’t get DLCs or downloadable games.

      And i’ll bet you’ll just say “well, deal with it, video games aren’t that important”, if that’s the case, then stop complaining about people pirating.

    • wow, buthurt if i even saw one, and i applaud you sir for buying games, a shame you probably pirate everything else (songs movies etc..), and an even greater shame that you dont realice some people dont live in arm reach of a video game retailer, or if they do they cost an arm and a leg more that you in all your mightines pay, or that most retailers dont have most games.

      also you cant buy food then you dont deserve food, (know stupid argument, but from the start the example he gave was stupid)

      so im sorry, im not usually like to drawn conclutions but, you sound like somebody who is supported by his parents and never have to work for selfsustain.

  • A “crushing victory” where you still can’t manage to get backup manager up and running on 3.55 or PSN going on 3.41. Weakest definition of a “crushing victory” I’ve ever heard of.