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GeoHot and fail0verflow respond to Sony’s legal action over hacking

Thursday, 13th January 2011 16:56 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

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Hacker group fail0verflow, which was partly responsible for the recent security key generation hack on PS3, has issued a response on its website after Sony started legal proceedings against it earlier this week. The group claims the only reason it hacked the console was over Sony’s “removal of OtherOS”.

Courtesy of Yahoo News, fail0verflow said: “Our exclusive goal was, is, and always has been to get OtherOS back”, adding that it does not, and has never, “condoned, supported, approved of, or encouraged videogame piracy.”

George Hotz, who goes by the moniker GeoHot, has also spoken out on the matter, telling the BBC: “I am a firm believer in digital rights. I would expect a company that prides itself on intellectual property to be well versed in the provisions of the law, so I am disappointed in Sony’s current action.”

“I have spoken with legal counsel and I feel comfortable that Sony’s action against me doesn’t have any basis,” he added.

After both fail0verflow and GeoHot broke news of the console’s hack, Sony applied for a temporary restraining order from the courts and an order of impoundment.

A NeoGAF user and Digital Foundry have both suggested Sony could disable hacked PS3 consoles without the system being connected to PSN, as the machines automatically connect with Sony upon booting up.

Meanwhile, Ubisoft has weighed-in on the matter, stating that the only way to fully combat the security breach is to issue new hardware – which would be an expensive option for Sony.

Via CVG.

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51 Comments

  1. Joe Anderson

    “Our exclusive goal was, is, and always has been to get OtherOS back”, adding that it does not and has never “condoned, supported, approved of, or encouraged videogame piracy.” – Yeah right, why publish the key then?

    People like this deserve to be sued. Piracy or opening a system up so its prone to piracy is wrong, pure and simple.

    #1 4 years ago
  2. theevilaires

    I want this mother fucker underneath the jail SONY!

    #2 4 years ago
  3. Erthazus

    Hey, Gayhot, you can always hack your hardware here: http://www.allamericanpatriots.com/files/images/prison-bunk.jpg

    #3 4 years ago
  4. Maxey

    Their excuse for why they did the jailbreak is simply pathetic. They opened up the console to piracy just because Sony removed OtherOS?

    That’s like making and selling a tool to unlock a certain brand of cars just because that brand removed the ashtray from the new models.

    #4 4 years ago
  5. Gekidami

    But otherOS was removed BECAUSE people started to exploit it to hack the system.

    This is like Hitler saying Germany only invaded Poland because Poland resisted their invasion.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. spiderLAW

    @5
    Hahahaha that fits perfectly

    #6 4 years ago
  7. Dr.Ghettoblaster

    This is like saying the bread is in the pancakes when the pancakes are made of potatoes..

    #7 4 years ago
  8. theevilaires

    hmmm the electric chair wouldn’t be too bad of a punishment would it?

    #8 4 years ago
  9. NeoSquall

    I wonder what they would do IF Sony re-enabled Other OS.

    Would they travel back in time and stop their past selves from publishing Sony’s private data (namely the root key) on the net, and showing the means to crack open the console?

    Would they magically erase every trace of their actions, even from people’s mind?

    Would they manually go and work for Sony on a way to stop pirates from doing whatever they want with the PS3?

    #9 4 years ago
  10. Bond James Bond

    Sony lol

    #10 4 years ago
  11. Holesome

    Wow. 9 out of 9 posts defending Sony. I think this may a new record.

    Reminds me of Satellite signal pirating in the past. It seems in that case the lawsuits did nothing and the solution was that the satellite companies came out with a new hardware/software encryption method.

    Too late Sony. The flood gates are already open and the shut-off valve has been broken.

    #11 4 years ago
  12. OrbitMonkey

    “I am a firm believer in digital rights. I would expect a company that prides itself on intellectual property to be well versed in the provisions of the law, so I am disappointed in Sony’s current action.”

    O_o

    What did you expect mate? A fucking cookie?

    #12 4 years ago
  13. lexph3re

    They were dumb. If they really wanted a job with said company all. They had to do was inform the company directly and prove they could do it then sale themselves as techs to the company.

    Bam! You just made some hard earned money. Instead you want to hack them, release it to the world, and then say “hey hire us if you want to have fail proof systems!” Fuckin morons!

    #13 4 years ago
  14. Dr.Ghettoblaster

    Good point 13, they should have contacted sony directly, annoyomously, and awaited their response.

    #14 4 years ago
  15. Psychotext

    “If they really wanted a job with said company all. They had to do was inform the company directly and prove they could do it then sale themselves as techs to the company.”

    That’s actually been done in the past… and the people involved were jailed for extortion. lol

    #15 4 years ago
  16. spiderLAW

    Did i miss something? where did they say they wanted to work for Sony?

    #16 4 years ago
  17. Psychotext

    Geohot said it…

    “if you want your next console to be secure, get in touch with me. any of you 3. it’d be fun to be on the other side.”

    #17 4 years ago
  18. Lord Gremlin

    This gayhot should be put to jail. Next time anybody thinks about hacking PS4 or PS5 they’ll think “hey, remember how gayhot fot 10 years for hacking PS3? Fuck it, let’s hack new iphone.”

    #18 4 years ago
  19. Gheritt White

    WHERE IS TONKA WHEN YOU REALLY NEED HIM???

    #19 4 years ago
  20. Gekidami

    ^ Why dont you just troll in his place? you’ve proven you’re more then capable in the past.

    #20 4 years ago
  21. Gheritt White

    Because I’m not as funny as him.

    #21 4 years ago
  22. NinjaMidget

    These guys are ridiculous, I really hope a jury sees through their excuses.

    #22 4 years ago
  23. M2Kx

    lol @the comments, it’s almost like you’re losing something because of this, srsly…

    (and no, I’m not a software pirate or sth. else :P)

    #23 4 years ago
  24. OlderGamer

    Hmm service side games, streamed to each paying user, bank level encryption, no hardware to speak of. Ya know that almost sounds like Cloud Gaming.

    Sure that could prolly be hacked too, but there wouldn’t be any legal grey areas.

    I have always had a problem with assumed liscences. I mean, I know I am old school, but if I bought an iteam, why shouldn’t I be able to use in the maner I see fit?

    It would be like buying record player(remember those?) but with the machine only being able to play records produced by certian record labels. I would have a problem with that.

    Now if I could simply change out the needle on that record player so that the player would then be able to play records released from other record labels, i think i would.

    No brainer really.

    I know it is the accepted norm these days but the idea of certian games, working on certian hardware, only with certian regions, but it is absurd.

    (I would like to take this opertunity to remind you that when we buy a game, we aren’t. We don’t own the game at all. What we are paying for is the liscensing agreement that allows us to play the game. And only in the use in which was intended by the publishers. So when we import, when we buy a used game, when we let a friend barrow our copy, even when we play it on a second system located in another room of our home, we are breaking that agreement. thus the grey area on second hand sale and DRM, all of it absurd.)

    And so is telling someone what they can and can not do with a piece of hardware after it is sold. Not like they are using this to kill people, rob banks, cheat taxes, or in any other way gain an unfair advantage over neighbors.

    Lets be honest.

    This is about a big ass company wanting to keep control over a cash cow. They want a closed system that they can control. And everything that comes with it.

    This is also about some cocky kid with a ego ten miles high achiving something that wasn’t ‘possed to be possible.

    I totaly understand that Sony wants to protect their own. I get that. But what seems like some of you folks are forgeting is that when a huge company protects their own, it is often at someone elses expense.

    Ask yourself what happens if the courts throw this out the window and GeoHot walks, and Sony loses?

    Games get pirated?
    Millions of PS3 gamers stop buying games?
    Sony crumbles?

    Nope, nope, and nope.

    PS3 is not the only system to ever pirated.

    The world top selling systems are easy to pirate. Gameboy, xb360, PC, Wii, PSP. This is nothing new.

    This is Sony arogance at fail. remember when the claimed that they were Hack proof? They weren’t. Throwing down a challange like that is like asking hackers to try.

    If I were Sony I would be more worried is average Joe types wanted their PS3 opened up. They won’t, but if they did that would be a problem.

    I also believe that as an industry games are stupidly over budgeted and over priced. Too long have we had gaming focued on high end eye candy. Games that require millions of sold copies to break even. Gadgets and gimmicks, from plastic instruments to DLC to Motion Controlers to lots more, much of what is aimed at recouping those high dev costs.

    My rant with this is that if call of duty didn’t cost 100plusUSD for the full DLC-enhanced experience, people would pirate less. And it certianly isn’t limited to CoDS, way too many games are way to expensive.

    I know some will say that games haven’t gone up that much over the long haul, SNES carts were 40-50usd. But in 1994 we didn’t have a global rescession/depresion, and if I recall those carts were expensive to manufacture compared to printing a DVD/CD/BDand esp a DD game.

    I think pirating and hacking are two things that feed each other. One is that people do it for tha challange and acomplishment of it. Ands second people use ‘em because they genuinly can’t afford to do it any other way.

    And THAT is what I would be most worried about going forward if I was Sony.

    But I doubt that would happen. MS still sells XB360s, and its games are very often, time and time again, dominating the top sellers charts.

    But of course Sony publicly has to do something, they can’t simply congratulate GeoHot and say nice job.

    But I bet you he gets made a scape goat and he gets raked through the coals more then he should.

    My two cents(a whole nickles worth as ussual), but your milage may very.

    #24 4 years ago
  25. monu-mental

    Seriously Older Gamer. If you purchase a gun, with your own hard earned cash, are you allowed to just shoot people randomly?

    Of course not. Same goes here. Stop being silly. This guy cracked the PS3 and then placed the root key online for the world to see. Then he bounces back talking crap.

    You should be prosecuted to the full extent.

    #25 4 years ago
  26. AHA-Lambda

    @24 – wow THAT is a good post ;)

    #26 4 years ago
  27. OlderGamer

    I know some will disagree, and people often use extremes to ilustrate their opinions/points.

    But….

    I really don’t think the gun analogy fits. Infact I think it backs me up. It isn’t like anyone is going to get physicly hurt over a hacked game system.

    I really think that companies need to rethink some ideas. Can you imagine a well known and well liked movie star trying to make a case that no one should take pictures or ask for autographs? In this day and age of instant media, cam equiped cell phones and TV shows that pay handsomesly for celeb interactings/photos, the days of celebs going unnoticed are long gone.

    And I think that applies to Sony, or MS, or Ninetendo too. In sorts. It is unrealistic for anyone to think they can make a piece of hardware, beit phone or game system, and not have someone somewhere open it up.

    I just think a rethink is in order on some of this.

    I don’t know this Geo guy personialy but to me he seems a bit of an ego tripper, self rightous, and arogant. In otherwords pretty normal for his age to be honest. I just don’t see him as a hardend criminal, which Sony will try and paint him.

    #27 4 years ago
  28. Filofax

    @11 It’s not just about defending Sony, its also to do with the lame excuse these guys used to defend what they did.

    @24 “But I bet you he gets made a scape goat and he gets raked through the coals more then he should” the guy is opening up the system to pirates he deserves jail time not a smack on the wrists.

    #28 4 years ago
  29. Filofax

    @27 “I really don’t think the gun analogy fits. Infact I think it backs me up. It isn’t like anyone is going to get physicly hurt over a hacked game system.” But it does fit, what you fail to realise is that piracy is not limited to some guy on a market stall selling copied games. Organised crime makes loads of money from counterfeit goods and that includes pirated games.

    #29 4 years ago
  30. GwynbleiddiuM

    This is a Video Game Console, I hope you guys (hackers) get that, which you clearly don’t. The point in developing such a machine is not to install secondary OS with broken compatibility, it’s to play games specifically designed to be used with that platform and supported media type. So for god sake, shut the hell up and go by yourself a PC and do your shit there. This was not designed to entertain your lust for linux based OS so why wont you stop bullshitting us!? FFS GTFO and GFY in HELL…

    #30 4 years ago
  31. ianbenoir

    he should just have published the ps3 crack working, instead of showing the world how to do it.
    I bet things would be different now

    #31 4 years ago
  32. Gheritt White

    @ 28: Why defend Sony *at all*? Does hearing about the PS3 being hacked hurt your feelings? If you want to defend anybody, defend developers – they’re ones that suffer at the hands of pirates. Sony, on the other hand, might actually sell a handful more consoles off the back of this crack.

    Honestly, PS3 fanboys are the Apple fanboys of the 21st century… or maybe I’m just reading different forums now.

    #32 4 years ago
  33. OlderGamer

    @29

    While I can respect your pov, I disagree with you.

    I feel the PS3 being hacked open will have next to zero impact on Sony or the PS3 system. Lest not on main street USA, UK, EU, or the average you and me types of the world.

    #33 4 years ago
  34. Gheritt White

    @ 33: Agreed. Organised crime my fucking arse.

    #34 4 years ago
  35. Callum

    Jesus… y’all gone crazy or something? Most people aren’t making any sense at all!

    Sony won’t even bat an eye-lid at this: they had to do something to protect the company image and justify the massive license fee developers are forced to pay, that is all.

    I hope Geohot isn’t ‘made an example of’ like the poor student involved in the London student protests.

    #35 4 years ago
  36. Filofax

    @32 I would do the same for Nintendo or Microsoft, it has nothing to do with being a fanboy more to do with being a gamer.

    #36 4 years ago
  37. Gheritt White

    @ 36: So worry about devs, not hardware manufacturers. Why do you think Nintendo haven’t really done much to prevent piracy on the DS? They’re not blind to the fact that it helps them sell shitloads of their consoles!

    @ 35: I agree 100%.

    #37 4 years ago
  38. Howie Feltersnatch

    As usual Older Gamer chimes in with his NOVEL of a fucking post thinking he’s all knowing then people suck his dick afterwards, when in fact he’s a closet Sony hating fucking idiot. I actually took the time to read your post and your not even in the right ball park old fart.

    So since I should be able to play different companies records on a record player I should be able to play whatever the fuck game I want on a hacked PS3 without paying for it???? Nice fucking logic idiot.

    Go shake the dust off your old wrinkly balls you old bastard. LMFAO!!!

    #38 4 years ago
  39. GwynbleiddiuM

    @37 It might help them to sell shitloads of consoles, at the same time their major profit is made by their cuts on each sold video game unit. So, console manufacturers may sell many consoles but many of them wont return profit, cuz no game is being purchased for them.

    #39 4 years ago
  40. Callum

    @39 your right, I don’t know the specifics but most companies sell hardware at a loss and mitigate it with software sales. It’s the only real way to make money (unless your Nintendo and your hardware is cheap as chips because its 30 years old! )

    But I know in general Sony are doing fine financially (obviously helped by the fact they make a shit tone of OTHER stuff, especially their camera equipment for the film industry) and will continue to do so. There may be a small rise in pirating, people may even buy the console just to pirate on it, but that’s one hell of an investment right? That’s nearly £300 for something that *might* get fixed later on, or *may* never be allowed to connect to the net lest it updates itself?

    So the only real threat coming from this is the previous console owners all upping and leaving the default firmware and only using pirated copies…is that what you guys plan to do?

    #40 4 years ago
  41. Freek

    Saying these hackers are evil and should be sued is wrong and extremly short sighted. Without people like this we would not be backing up our DVDs or ripping them to our harddisks. We would not be able to instal the themes and custom settings on our Iphones, we would not have had the wonderfull Media Center experience that was/is XBMC.

    The community of hackers is a constant source of technological inovation that stretch the capabilities of the machines we bought and own.
    It is up to us to decide what that machine does. Something that has recently even been acknowledged by US courts who dedclared jail breaking legal, so long as it is not used for piracy.

    Piracy commited by other individuals then the hackers. You cannot keep discoveries like this secret and you would not want to. Other developers need to know the tricks in order to get homebrew coding up and running.

    The fact that somebody decides to abuse that knowledge is soley the fault of that individual and nobody else.
    if you decide to pirate you are breaking the law, not the person who gave you the information to do so.

    Like everything in life, knowledge can be used lawfully or unlawfully but the knowledge itself is not evil.

    Blaming hackers is like blaming Ferrari for making a car that can break the speed limit.

    #41 4 years ago
  42. TheWulf

    I think I can count the amount of people here who happen to be from the extreme right. It’s actually a little scary to me how many gamers are that right-aligned, to the point where they can’t see their nose in front of their face.

    I don’t know why I’m bothering to restate facts, here, especially considering since they were already stated in a previous VG247 article, and that it’ll likely just net me some puerile insults, but maybe I can clear up some of the misinformation so not everyone buys into it.

    1. White-hat hackers are not The Great Red Pinko Foreign Evil.

    In fact, many white-hat hackers have been thanked by people int he industry for exposing these things in a proper way so that they could be dealt with. There are security seminars for just this reason. (I’ll get back to this.)

    2. It could have been much worse.

    They could have developed piracy software, but they didn’t. They presented this at a security seminar to show that the console is vulnerable. They didn’t release piracy tools or ways for people to easily enable piracy. That’s all still a while off. What they did do is release a way in which people can return the Other OS option to their system.

    So stop with the FUD.

    3. Why did they release it?

    They released it at a security seminar. If you’re familiar with the security scene (as I am), then this is the way it’s done. You need to be able to show a proof of concept to prove a hole exists, and that’s just what they did. They also offered a practical use for this hole in the form of returning something that people wanted, which was theirs by right.

    4. Other OS was advertised as a feature at the time of purchase.

    It’s not unfair that people feel entitled to it. I used the PS3 as a server on and off, and I was dismayed that Sony actually wanted to remove Other OS. The PS3 actually made for a good, cheap server. And when the server didn’t need to be running, I’d take it down and play games on it.

    Just because your mind has been filled with piracy (are you so interested in pirating?), it doesn’t mean that piracy is the only use for this feature. If that was the case then Sony wouldn’t have added and advertised this feature originally.

    Fact: If there weren’t uses for it, Sony wouldn’t have included the option. Some people found Other OS very useful.

    5. Sony overreacted to the actions of GeoHot.

    They dropped the ball. Anyone who’s been bothering to follow this realises that.

    GeoHot never intended to release the hack. In fact, he pretty much put it to rest when he found out that he could do it. A lot of hackers see encryption as a fun challenge. They want to see if they can break it, but not all of them actually release their work.

    It’s more than likely he would’ve privately shared his work with Sony had they approached him, but instead they just went with a particularly dumb move: Removing a feature that some people who’ve purchased a PS3 actually have a use for.

    6. Restoring a person’s rights is not an unethical act.

    If I originally had something, something that I knew I was entitled to (due to it being advertised at point of sale), and it was taken away – then the action of taking it away from me is the unethical one. The action of restoring my right to use that feature is the ethical one.

    7. You can’t ignore human nature.

    If GeoHot hadn’t taken on the challenge, someone would have. And consider how bad the damage could have been if they released the hack with piracy enabled on day one – not as part of a security seminar, but just publically instead, to everyone, at the same time, along with a link to a site that provided BluRay rips.

    8. Just because someone CAN pirate doesn’t mean someone WILL pirate.

    If you believe that, you’re talking out of your arse.

    As a long time PC user, I can tell you that it’s easy to pirate just about anything. And yet, despite that, my Steam library is swollen with all the purchases I’ve made over the years. I buy games because I want to support developers. Law be damned, in this case. I’m not a right-wing, head-up-my-arse idiot who follows law over ethics. I pay developers for their works all the time, because it’s ethical.

    Piracy on the 360 is also incredibly easy, and yet few people do it. This is because despite what you may believe, given the chance and a fair amount of respect, any person will likely do the ethical thing. This counts for you, and it counts for me.

    ABILITY does not equal MOTIVATION. To say that the ability invokes the motivation to pirate is a false dichotomy.

    An industry analyst agrees with me on this point, check out VG247′s previous article and actually pick up a thing or two in the process.

    Hopefully all of this has helped to dispel some of the FUD, because I hate misinformation, and I hate bullshit. So let’s not do that. Really. Let’s not.

    #42 4 years ago
  43. OlderGamer

    Rage much Howie?

    You should calm down, it is just some guys two cents about video games on an internet website. Nothing to go off the deep end on.

    #43 4 years ago
  44. Gekidami

    @41
    Again, you’re ignoring the reason why otherOS was removed in the first place.

    #44 4 years ago
  45. OlderGamer

    Very good post TheWulf, very good.

    #45 4 years ago
  46. Psychotext

    “Again, you’re ignoring the reason why otherOS was removed in the first place.”

    To save money (allegedly). That’s the reason Sony gave for its removal from the slim, and that’s when Geohot started messing around with the PS3, to try and get otheros working again (or so he said). At that point, or a few months later at least, Sony announced that they were removing it from the fat PS3s too.

    The timeline looks a little like this:

    In the end of 2009, Hotz announced his efforts to hack the Sony PlayStation 3, a console widely regarded as being the only fully locked and secure system of the seventh generation era. Hotz opened a blog to document his progress, and five weeks later, on January 22, 2010, he announced that he had successfully hacked the machine by enabling himself read and write access to the machine’s system memory and having hypervisor level access to the machine’s processor. Hotz also detailed the many things his work could allow, such as homebrew and PlayStation 2 emulation (a feature removed by Sony in newer revisions of the console to tackle production costs).

    On January 26, 2010, Hotz released the exploit to the public. It requires the OtherOS function of the machine, and consists of a Linux kernel module and gaining control of the machine’s hypervisor via bus glitching. Hotz wrote that “Sony may have difficulty patching the exploit”. On March 28, 2010, Sony has responded by announcing to release a PlayStation 3 firmware update that removes the OtherOS feature, a feature that was already absent on the newer Slim revisions of the machine. This generated an uproar by the PlayStation 3 community. Hotz had then announced plans of a custom firmware, similar to the custom firmware for the PlayStation Portable, to enable Linux and OtherOS support, while still retaining the features of newer firmwares.

    (Noting that the OtherOS-less slim was released September 2009, and 3.21 was released April 1st (cynical bastards).

    #46 4 years ago
  47. jnms

    So, I’m gathering all you people on here have never, ever downloaded music or a movie ‘illegally’?

    #47 4 years ago
  48. NeoSquall

    @42
    There are some points I don’t agree with:
    1. Security seminars given at hackers conferences are radically different from security seminars given at colleges, universities or industry conferences.

    2. They didn’t have to develop piracy tools because the mere fact they released the tools to open the console was enough to pirates with the means and motivations to do it, and this is enforced by your point 7: pirates gonna pirate.

    3. Again, security seminars regarding a video game console, which generates enormous profit for a large number of people and whose security those people depend isn’t really the proper way to go. They should have contacted Sony first, strike a deal in which Sony was allowed time to fix the issue if possible and then they could show the case in security seminars

    5. if it’s true GeoHot never intended to release the hack, how come failoverflow (or whatever they’re named) got hang of the root key and released it to the public?

    8. this point contrast with point 7

    #48 4 years ago
  49. Quak0r

    this is ridiculous. I think the people who will or have made software of other ways to pirate game should be dragged to court not the ones enabling to install software in general on the PS3. I mean suing someone for the potential of something is not right in the moral sense nor lawful. I mean why not sue the gun manufacturers for the potential of using the guns for murder or the developers of Html/php/css for the potential of scam websites. That’s just BS!

    #49 4 years ago
  50. aleph31

    kudos to OlderGamer and TheWulf, great contributions to this thread.

    What it worries me most, is the level of anger and ‘abrupt’ language (to use an euphemism) displayed by the ones that want to see those hackers prosecuted.

    It is also sad to see that the majority of people in this forum are deceiving themselves thinking that Sony, Microsoft, Activision/Blizzard, EA, etc. deserve to be somehow protected, as if big corporations were looking for the welfare of every of us. Their only deal is to make money, and if they can do it lowering the quality of their products (eg. no imagination, culture, innovation, etc) and raising the prices, perfect deal -for them-. So it’s up to us -consumers- to keep the quality of the games, backing good developers and artists through sales.

    Morally asking the law to be enforced is one thing, but the amount of people here that express themselves as blind and radical followers & defenders of these companies is a completely different story.

    I don’t want any harm to these companies, they fill a niche in the world of enternainment (with very intellectually-low products, but that’s ok for me, not everyone has the same needs for their spare time), just that I would prefer to see a more critical POV from gamers.

    #50 4 years ago
  51. NightCrawler1970

    If Sony sells, cars, and you bought a HUMMER from the lot, and 2 weeks later Sony calls you to inform you that HUMMER you bought have to come back for a checkup…

    And Sony mechanic remove the radiator(OtherOS), and inform you that if your HUMMER IS OVERHEATED, just pull over to cool off…

    Same with “OtherOS” you bought the PS3 when “OtherOS” was included in that time…

    I think the Security reason what Sony stated is BS.

    #51 4 years ago

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