One of the bigger gaming news stories this year so far is that George Hotz (or Geohot to the internet at large) , the justifiably ego-driven hacker du jour found, and released the PS3’s root keys. What’s are these root keys, you ask? It’s a set of largely incomprehensible numbers that Sony uses to digitally sign licenced software for their current console, allowing the PS3 to know that the games that are being run are genuine.
They’re now in the wild, meaning that homebrew devs and custom firmware creators will be able to sign their own software, and have it run on PS3s, without the need for any hardware modifications or USB dongles. It will also very likely lead to some pretty large scale, and easy PS3 piracy – because with the keys made public, the PS3’s security has practically been completely eroded.
Apparently – according to fail0verflow, the hackers responsible for the exploit used by GeoHot – there’s not much Sony can do about it. The root keys are hard-coded in to the PS3, and altering them will prevent older retail games from functioning.
As of right now, there’s already a modified firmware that allows users to install PS3 software packages (and not much else). How easy is it to hack, then? It’s as simple as copying the modified firmware to a flash drive and updating – as you would with an official firmware update from Sony.
There’s been nothing released as yet that enables piracy yet, but it’s inevitable. It’ll be interesting to see in the coming months just how much it affects sales of PS3 games, particularly locally where PS3 software sales eclipse those of its rival HD console.
Ironically, the reason hackers have recently put so much effort in to cracking the PS3 open is because the company removed â€œOtherOS,â€ the ability to install Linux, something they did out of fears of potential piracy.
While we at Lazygamer do not condone piracy at all, the homebrew scene will be an interesting one. I’d not be particularly disappointed to have my PS3 running XBMC, for instance. The PS3. It only does everything. Except maybe security.
Last Updated: January 6, 2011