FBI using PS3s to catch paedophiles

By disguising them as kids, perhaps?

The FBI has found a new secret weapon in the war on paedophiles - the PlayStation 3.

As reported by AXcess News, investigators are using Sony's consoles to perform password-cracking calculations. "Bad guys are encrypting their stuff now, so we need a methodology of hacking on that to try to break passwords. The Playstation 3 - its processing component - is perfect for large-scale library attacks," said special agent Claude E. Davenport, who works for C3 - the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Cyber Crimes Center. Awesome.

Under US law, it's legal for federal agents to seize and search computers if they have a warrant. However, they can't force suspects to reveal their passwords because of the Fourth Amendment.

So the agents are left trying to break the encryptions, which would probably even stump Vorderman. For example, the number of permutations for a six-digit password is 281,474,976,710,656, for example.

Which is where the PS3 comes in - software company AccessData Corp. has discovered it's brilliant at cracking codes. "You take the ability of a single person to throw a few passwords at it a minute to a few million a second," said AccessData's Neil Condon. In fact the FBI's 20 networked PS3s can process 4 million passwords per second, to be precise.

Other consoles could technically be used for the same purpose - but the advantage of using the PS3 is it allows users to install Linux. It's "slightly more efficient" than the $8000 Tableau/Dell setup in use previously, according to Skinner, and of course much cheaper.

The PS3 Slim is no good to the FBI, however. "The newer PS3s have been restricted, locked down, so you can't put Linux on them," Condon said. They're hoping to buy another 40 old ones off eBay.

And no, they don't use the PS3s to play a bit of FIFA during lunch breaks - "There's no controllers hooked up," apparently. Hang on, aren't the controllers wireless?

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About the author

Ellie Gibson

Ellie Gibson

Contributor

Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.

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