PS3 Firmware 3.56 Contains a Rootkit?

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It seems that initial reports of the PS3’s firmware 3.56 being hacked were, like a teenage boy’s first time,  just a little premature. According to some of the more experienced members of the PS3 hacking scene, Sony may have added more protection than originally anticipated.

Remember back a few years to the Sony BMG rootkit scandal? Concerned over music piracy, Sony included rootkit software on audio CD’s  – essentially commercial spyware – that sneakily installed itself on PC’s and tracked what users were doing. The rootkits also had the unfortunate side-effect of slowing Pc’s to a crawl and opening up gaping security holes.

It seems like Sony might be up to some of its old tricks, and that Firmware 3.56 for the PS3 might include a rootkit of sorts.

Famed PSP and PS3 hacker Mathieulh, who’s dissected 3.56 had the following to say :

<Mathieulh> 3.56 has nice new stuffs in there 😛
<Mathieulh> like remote code execution upon login
<Mathieulh> yummy 😛
<Mathieulh> 3.56 pretty much has a built in psn rootkit
<Mathieulh> don’t tell me I haven’t warned you
<Mathieulh> the server awaits a proper reply
<Mathieulh> and that reply isn’t in the firmware

What this mean is that Sony can run code – without your knowledge or approval – on your PS3 once you connect to PSN. Ostensibly, this code would do something to confirm that your firmware is above board, but Sony can change the code that runs at a whim. There’s apparently no reliable way of spoofing the replies. What it also means is that pirates, and those running custom firmware for slightly more savoury reasons like emulators, will probably be banned from PSN soon.

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It also does open the door for more malevolent forces to exploit the rootkit, possibly running unsigned, unwanted code on consoles, even leading to the first PS3 virus. Of course, that’s all supposition and conjecture – but it’s possible.

On a related note, Sony’s reissued Firmware 3.56, now fixing the issue that prevented users from replacing their hard drives.

Source : NeoGAF

Last Updated: February 3, 2011

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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