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Hackers break new PSP firmware

About the most interesting thing to happen with PSP lately.

The latest development from hackers working on breaking the security on Sony's various firmware upgrades for the PSP has allowed homebrew software to run on even the latest patches - leading to concerns that pirate software may follow.

Until now, only version 1.5 of the PSP firmware has been able to reliably run homebrew software, although teams working on the system have managed to make some advances on later versions - including, notably, a crack that allowed purchasers of systems running version 2.0 firmware to downgrade them to version 1.5.

Sony has continually updated its firmware in order to keep one step ahead of the hacker community - but the latest exploit to be published allows many popular pieces of homebrew software, including emulators, to be run on even the most recent firmware, version 2.6.

However, Sony and the PSP third-party publishers can breathe a sigh of relief over one element of this new development; as yet, nobody has demonstrated a way to play pirated PSP software using this exploit, only homebrew applications.

The exploit works using a malformed save game for Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, so any user wanting to use the homebrew software will need a copy of that game. Since the problem appears to lie with game software rather than with the PSP firmware itself, it's not clear whether Sony will be able to fix the exploit with a new patch as they have done in the past.

Among the homebrew software which users will be able to run using this new exploit are emulators for the SNES, the Mega Drive and several other old console systems, as well as a variety of games. Some developers have even created useful applications such as RSS readers, e-Book readers and customised browser software.

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