PS3 hacked via USB device to allow backup game playback

It still hasn’t been verified, but a group of hackers have reportedly created a custom jailbreak that cracks the Sony PlayStation 3‘s copy protection.  If true, this marks the first time anyone has successfully broken through the “piracy-proof” game console.

The new PSJailbreak also opens the door to unauthorized game and video playback, but it still hasn’t been verified to be a legitimate crack.  The crack reportedly works by running software that mimics debugging software used by the PS3.

PS3 hacked via USB device to allow backup game playback

Running from a FAT32 external USB drive, a recently posted YouTube video shows the game console playing a Ratchet & Clank backup from the PS3 HDD.  It’s unknown if the USB-powered device is truly a modchip or a flash drive that uses a custom boot loader.

The dongle is reportedly available for sale in Australia and China, but the price remains relatively high (more than $150) for something that may not work in a couple of weeks from now, if Sony patches the vulnerability with a PS3 firmware update.

Cracking game consoles remains very appealing to hackers, as the unlocked consoles offer external HDD support, additional content playback, and other perks that are otherwise unavailable on the locked down stock editions.

Sony has issued firmware updates that negate previous unauthorized modifications, so it’s possible a similar patch release will close this latest loophole.  Either way, game manufacturers must understand that the community will always continue to unlock and crack game consoles and video game DRM.

I’ve chatted with Microsoft Xbox 360 designers in the past about jailbreaks and DRM circumvention.  Their largest concern is related to modded consoles being sold on the black market — allowing owners to play pirated games.  Game studios do approach console makers and the PC industry to discuss anti-piracy measures to help prevent their intellectual property.

As long as manufacturers keep releasing consoles, there will be someone waiting patiently to have a crack at circumventing DRM and copy protection.  Perhaps if the console makers didn’t restrict what you could do with your own property, there wouldn’t be a need for these hacks…