Hackers may have cracked PS3

Does "PSJailbreak" herald PS3 piracy?

Rumours are swirling this morning that the PlayStation 3's security has finally been breached and "backup" software now runs on the Sony platform.

A company of unknown origin has created what it calls the PSJailbreak - a combination of software and USB dongle that seemingly allows all makes and model of retail PlayStation 3 to copy and run any kind of game code, even with the latest firmware updates in place.

While it remains to be seen whether it is another in a long line of elaborate fakes, it's understood that multiple modchip resellers were sent anonymous packages from Hong Kong, and one of the recipients - Australia-based OzModChips - has posted two convincing-looking videos on YouTube showing the system in action.

Based on OzModChips' YouTube offerings, the dongle itself appears to be activated when the system is booted by holding down the power followed by the eject button. This might suggest that the USB dongle is an adapted form of debug equipment used by Sony itself in testing production and refurbished PS3s, and several consoles locked into "factory mode" have escaped into the wild before now.

If true, this is a crushing blow for Sony, especially as potential pirates won't even need to buy a Blu-ray burner to acquire copied games: the hack works by streaming game data either from the internal HDD or alternatively via USB flash drives or hard disks.

But is it the real deal? Hacker websites are saying it is, while the publicly available game-dumping tool from the "Jailbreak" site installs without the USB dongle on debug PS3s, and does indeed rip retail games, although they do not boot. There have been many fakes in the past - PSJailbreak looks disturbingly authentic.

We have contacted SCEE and await comment.

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