Hackers have released something that can be considered the master switch to allow pirate firmware updates to Sony’s Playstation 3. They released so called ‘Iv0 keys’ that can be used to sign custom firmwares for the console and which are also used by Sony themselves. And due to the publication also hacked consoles should be able to regain access to the Playstation Network (PSN). The hacker group ‘The Three Muskateers’ claims that they already had the keys for a while but decided not to publish them. The information also came into the hands of another group called BlueDiskCFW which was about to release the Iv0 keys for a fee. To avoid others earning money with their hack, The Three Muskateers decided to publish the keys themselves.
In 2011 another hackgroup called ‘fail0verflow’ published a key used to sign software on the PS3, called the metldr root key. Without this key software can’t be validated or executed on the console, with the key this was made possible and it opened the way for homebrew software. Sony found a way to disable the use of the metldr key with PS3 firmware 3.60 which also disabled PSN access for hacked consoles.
Sony uses the Iv0 keys to protect the firmware of the Playstation 3. After update 3.60 the Iv0 keys were used to verify the software. With the release of the Iv0 keys to the web, hackers are able to modify current and future Playstation 3 firmwares. Because the Iv0 key is put into the Cell CPU during manufacturing it’s unlikely that Sony will be able to restore the protection of the Playstation 3 with a new update and with the PS3 firmware decrypted also the new PSN authentication key is easy to grab.