from the our-hardware-our-rules dept
The PS3 has been hacked before, but Sony was able to inhibit the hack with an update to its own firmware. This is much like the history of jailbreaking on Apple's iOS, where hackers typically uncover a security vulnerability and exploit it, whereupon Apple patches the hole and suppresses the jailbreak.
But the latest PS3 break is being dubbed unpatchable and the final hack. That's because this hack isn't giving you an exploit to use against a programming hole. It's giving you Sony's so-called LV0 (level zero) cryptographic keys.If true, the war is over and Sony lost. Hacker collective, the Three Musketeers, reportedly figured this all out some time ago, but now the LV0 keys have been leaked and it's open season on jailbreaking your PS3 (assuming you're technical enough to implement it). And, while it would be very easy to sit back and comment gleefully on the wonderful spirit of curiosity that propels this kind of work, and to likewise point out the futility of stopping people from tinkering with the products they legally bought, I find a different point more compelling.
Quite simply, this war that Sony lost did not need to be fought. They advertised a feature and it was only the subsequent and unilateral removal of that feature, which many customers very much wanted, that created all of this controversy. Without that removal, how much litigation money does Sony save? Without being anti-consumer, how much ill-will do they avoid? And all of that to fight a battle that, not only did they lose, but that they had to know they were overwhelmingly likely to lose over the long haul. Sophos touches on this point in hoping for a different approach in the future.
Let's hope, when the PS4 comes out, that Sony will give up on trying to lock out jailbreakers permanently, and instead provide a way for those who want to run alternative software to do so in official safety.
When King Cnut famously ordered the tide back and failed, he wasn't an arrogant absolute ruler trying to show off. He knew he would fail, and thereby demonstrated that to hold back the tide was impossible - and, in any case, unnecessary - even for a king.Once I got done snickering at the name King Cnut, I found the analogy perfectly fitting. Hopefully Sony will avoid this war entirely the next go around, though with their track record, I won't be holding my breath.