PlayStation 3 private key cracked

A hacking group claims to have cracked the private key that powers the copy protection system of all PlayStation 3 consoles, potentially breaking Sony's gaming platform wide open - and in such a way that the company has no comeback.

The group, which calls itself 'fail0verflow,' demonstrated its findings at the Chaos Communications Conference in a presentation which suggests that the ongoing fight between console modders and Sony's copy protection division is finally over - with the modders emerging the victors.

Unlike many groups, which develop methods of bypassing the digital rights management technology built into Sony's console as a means of enabling the use of illegitimate downloaded games for free, 'fail0verflow' claims to have a more high-brow aim: the restoration of the Other OS functionality, which allowed the PlayStation 3 to be transformed into a fully-functional Linux PC but that was removed in an update by Sony.

The loss of Other OS has been a thorn in the side of tinkerers for quite some time, but the work of 'fail0verflow' could lead to the functionality being added back into the platform - no matter what console or firmware version a users is running, and without needing a hardware dongle like previous 'jailbreak' solutions.

The team behind the discovery of the private key claim: "We only started looking at the PS3 after Other OS was killed," and deny that their release of the private key has anything to do with enabling piracy on the platform.

The discovery of the private master key to the PS3's DRM system is similar to the recent breaking of the key that protects the encryption system used for Blu-ray films and other HDCP-protected content - and similarly leaves the system wide open, with Sony unable to put the genie back into the bottle.

While the team's website, which promises to host full details of the private key and an implementation of a jailbreak patch based around it, is currently not active, a video of the CCC presentation offers a sneak preview of the hack - and will no doubt have Sony executives foaming at the mouths.