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Geohot unleashes PS3 private key

Notorious iPhone hacker George 'Geohot' Hotz has outed the Playstation 3's private security key, potentially opening the console to 'homebrew' software and pirated games.

The key code, which was discovered by hacking group fail0verflow, is the popular console's final check which determines whether software is legitimate.

Of course the discovery and publication of the key is only the first step in the process, and it will take some time before a viable jailbreak is publicly available, but by all accounts Sony will be helpless to stop the impending flood of piracy, at least by technical means.

Updating the private key in a future firmware upgrade would almost certainly render already-published PS3 games inoperable which, even given Sony's past reputation for treating its customers with contempt, probably isn't a viable option.

The only saving grace for the Japanese electronics giant is that a growing number of PS3 titles rely heavily on on-line multi-player gaming and hacked consoles will almost certainly be detected and banned from online services.