Sony has released a new firmware for its PlayStation 3 console, a move believed to signal the start of the company’s efforts to repair the damage caused by the discovery of the console’s secret signing key.
The key, which was released into the wild by security researcher George Hotz, blew the digital rights management system used by the console wide open. Since its release, third-party firmware has been developed that allows homebrew code to run on the PS3 – along with illegal copies of commercial games.
While Hotz, and a team of researchers known as fail0verflow, claims that the intention was simply to re-enable the OtherOS feature disabled by Sony, his efforts have netted him a lawsuit from the company.
Sony’s first attempt at fixing the issue without its lawyers – PlayStation 3 firmware 3.56 – is a small update described by Sony’s vice president of network operations Eric Lempel as: “A minor update that adds a security patch.”
Sadly, that’s as much information as the company is willing to provide – but the timing makes it clear that this is Sony’s first attempt to stuff the genie back into the bottle and regain control of its console.
The new firmware has been encrypted with a brand-new key, and initial indications are that it removes custom firmware installed on the system and prevents it from being re-installed. Because the firmware uses a new signing key, previous custom firmware solutions based on the key released by Hotz no longer work.
However, mere hours after the update went live on Sony’s US servers, a hacker known as Kakaroto has decrypted the new key and released details into the wild. With the new key leaked, firmware creators will be able to re-sign their creations and enable homebrew – and piracy – on the new firmware.
Clearly, Sony’s first attempts at solving its DRM issues hasn’t succeeded – which makes rumours of the planned introduction of PC-style serial keys into PS3 games significantly more likely.Leave a comment on this article