September 29, 2005 6:06 PM PDT

Sony cracks down on PSP hacks

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Sony is engaged in a tug-of-war with hackers who keep cracking its PlayStation Portable software to unlock the device and run their own applications on it.

The company is preparing another update to the PSP firmware to fix a recently disclosed bug that lets hackers downgrade the PSP system software and run their own, so-called homebrew code on the device, a Sony representative said Thursday.

"It is not...what the device was designed for," said Patrick Seybold, a spokesman for Sony Computer Entertainment America. "We plan to deal with this issue with the next system update." He declined to say when that update would be ready.

Soon after Sony released the PSP earlier this year, hackers started hunting for bugs in the software that runs the device. Flaws were found and used to run homegrown applications, such as a PDF reader and an FTP client, on the device. The bugs were not used to attack PSP users.

Sony last month updated the PSP firmware to version 2.0. The update encompassed new features, including a Web browser, but also fixed the flaws that had been exploited by the hackers. The 2.0 update was made available on Sony's Web site and will be included in new PSP games, which will require the update, Seybold said.

The 2.0 release sparked a new round of hacking. A buffer overflow flaw in the software was disclosed last week on PSP Updates, a PSP enthusiast site. The new bug can be exploited to run code on the device and to downgrade to version 1.5 of the firmware, according to PSP Updates. Version 1.5 was more hacker-friendly.

Sony is not "actively going after the people doing it," Seybold said, but the company does not advise running homebrew code on the PSP. "Running unauthorized software will void the warranty," he said.

The PSP was released in the U.S. in March. Since then, more than 2 million units have been sold in the U.S., according to Sony. The device is sold primarily as a portable game machine, but users can also play movies and music, display digital photos and browse the Internet through its built-in wireless networking.


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Sony protests too much
Having the PSP able to run homebrew, at least unofficially, is
more likely to have a net gain for Sony than anything.

It makes the platform more attractive, and even though Sony
relies on people buying games to make up the margin on the
console, which some may not do if they buy one solely for the
homebrew/pirated titles/emulators, many people will indeed
later buy games once they get bored with the alternatives.

And with Microsoft preparing a massive, massive marketing blitz
for the Xbox 360 - that is, a huge advertising campaign, both
overt and viral: you WILL want one, you won't be allowed to
come to any other conclusion - Sony's gaming offerings need all
the help they can get.
Posted by (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Its a culture yet to be corrected
This isn't the first time Sony has rejected the innovative vein of the tech industry. Exactly the same thing happened with Sony's Aibo when people started creating their own programs to have their digital pet perform "unofficial" tricks. The main reason that Sony has lost its edge compared to companies like Apple is that they have forgotten how to integrate into people's lifestyle. The walkman was truly one of the first "open source" consumer devices as people created mix tapes and had the freedom to enjoy thier music when and where they wanted to, long before MP3s and file swapping software. A culture of non-acceptance and strict conformance only flies in the face of innovation and technical development. If Sony were to actually embrace the open source community they may find that they sell more consoles, software and develop faster technically than forecasted by thier omniscient marketeers.
Posted by (1 comment )
Link Flag
Ridiculousness from S0ny
Sony is only hurting their PR by doing this.

I upgraded to 2.00 and only regretted it. I recently downgraded and am extremely happy and relieved that the work of some genius hackers(*cough SXT cough*) made it possible after all this time.

There are some genuinely awesome homebrew applications, such as Lua (which is a programming language specifically designed for creating PSP applications), Squarez from Globware, etc. not to mention a full port of the shareware version of Doom. People are INNOVATING and PROVIDING faster than Sony ever has, and it's Sony's fault for not keeping up. On the sketchier/riskier side? Well, sure, you can perhaps play Super Mario or boot up Windows 95 (no joke) on the thing, or even connect remotely to your desktop computer, but the fact that it has been made possible is just a demonstration of the raw ability of those contributing to the scene, even if it sometimes means that some harmless but still questionable material appears.

My guess? Sony's software sales will dwindle as people realize that more and more alternative software is availible and that buying new UMDs means losing that homebrew option (I will never again update to a firmware version that outlaws homebrew, even if it means boycotting software).

I'd suggest that anyone looking for a real PSP (legal) homebrew website check out <a class="jive-link-external" href="," target="_newWindow">,</a> as it is the most reliable, comprehensive, and up-to-date collection of PSP homebrew games and applications.
Posted by DraconumPB (229 comments )
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This is ridiculous
First off how can running homebrew software void you warranty...I would really like to see this one end up in court, Sony would surely lose!

Second, a person who owns a PSP or any other piece of hardware OWNS it, not the manufacturer and they have a right to run what they wish on it. As long as you don't break any laws, there is nothing they should not be able to stop you from using it they any way you wish.
Posted by Altaman (11 comments )
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When it comes to music and movies, you don't own it. You own a license that allows you to play the cd or dvd in one device in your home. Maybe it's a similar thing for the psp. Doesn't microsoft have something like that for the xbox and that's the reason why they got so pissed that so many people were modifying their xbox with bigger hard drives and mod chips? I could be wrong, I'm no lawyer.

I think they don't like the fact that teenage hackers are smarter than their programmers.
Posted by thedreaming (573 comments )
Link Flag
what they don't like... the fact that some 13 year old not only were able to hack their precious psp, but found new ways to use it. Sony just wanted to make a game console that also did some multimedia, but people are turning it into a portable computer which can do anything. Doesn't it make more sense to do that in the first place?
Posted by thedreaming (573 comments )
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One Reason For All This Hackery
... is the fact there are like 3 good games out for the PSP right now. You can do Lumines, Wipeout2097 or one of two other titles, all of which were available when the PSP was released. Most games that have come out since then have gotten low reviews from review sites.

I'm still waiting for some decent games and I'm getting pretty discouraged. One can only play so much Lumines before going bug-eyed. Right now I use my PSP mostly as a portable picture wallet.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
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Other good games
I agree with the theme of your comment, but just want to point out
that some other good games if you can't stand "driving games" are:

Mercury - one of the most novel game concepts in years
Virtua Tennis - so realistic and customizable, it's almost worth
becoming interested in tennis!
Prince of Persia - coming in November
Posted by (15 comments )
Link Flag
"Copyrights" have gone crazy
This is about the worst case of copyright protection I've seen in a while. So how long will it be before Ford tells me I can't use different tires from their factory supplied ones on my car? I guess we no longer own the things we buy. Welcome to the world of Digital Rental Management.
Posted by (174 comments )
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Sony PSP
I don't care about homebrew. Just fix the broken implementation of
Posted by therealiomatic (4 comments )
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Sony should think before opening their mouth!
2 things:

First, Sony can't void the warranty for what you run on it. Perhaps in the USA where you have EULA's (and only if it says it specifically in there), but over in Europe you have a mandatory 1 year warranty (in the majority of places, or 2 years in others) with no EULA for usage there is no chance their argument would hold up in court.

Second, Cnet get your facts right. The exploit was developed and announced on the forums of <a class="jive-link-external" href="," target="_newWindow">,</a> not PSP Updates.
Posted by (1 comment )
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Bizarre and pathetic simultaneously.
Sony's attitude quite disappointing, and yet confusing at the same time. It's confusing because back in the mid-to-late 90s, Sony used to tote a user development programme for the original Playstation called "Net Yaroze!" (yaroze means "Let's do it!" in Japanese).

This programme didn't really accomplish much, since the development environment Sony gave end users was so incredibly limited that they couldn't get more than 2MBytes of code+data working on the Playstation. The limitation was, obviously, to keep people from pirating games.

If Sony's focus is on piracy (which it obviously is), then I urge them to review the attitude presented by Steve Jobs (which I still think is the best depiction of the piracy problem today): Piracy is a *social problem*, and it cannot be solved using technology.

Sony, let people do what they want with their PSPs. If people start copying + distributing commercial games, then absolutely bust them. But for the rest of us who want to do what we want with our PSP units, such as run emulators and home-brewn games, you're instigating a futile and pointless war. Besides, your handheld is the only *decent* handheld out there right now which can sport a resolution higher than 256x256 -- which is perfect for the original Famicom and NES.

Embrace developers, Sony. Don't shun them.
Posted by katamari (310 comments )
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sony needs a reality check
These people are nuts, who cares what version of what or who they are running. And why should it matter to sony, they can't control what content people who have bought the system put on it. It is sickening to hear this over and over, I HAVE NEWS FOR YOU, IF I SPEND MONEY ON SOMETHING, IT IS MINE, and I will be Darned if anybody will tell me what I may and may not do with it, you buy it for me, that's a different matter entirely, but when I BUY it it is MINE!!!! So don't tell me what I can or can't do. So Sony, go suck an egg, and think about it for a while
Posted by (4 comments )
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not cool sony
yes yes yes, you have it down to a tee there. Sony you must know that all who buy your product would like the things they like not you. Its like buying your mum a ps3 for her 40th birthday present and watch her look at it through the years. You have upset me this much and I need you to give me acces to my psp and be able to sdo the things i liked to do on it. i would add some abusive content about now but i hope someone reads this and so i will not out of respect. This is only because of what you have created and i expect you to make it right again for millions of peaple quite peed of with you right now i can tell you.
Posted by (1 comment )
Link Flag
Iron Sony
Had they the foresight to see that this device has so much more capability than a DRM brick, they wouldn't be doing so much backpedaling in response to lack of apps, the mistaken software release that caused failures, the screamback about dead pixels, considered an acceptable failure rate repaired at end user cost. Excluding all Palm's woes, the Zodiac ran on a tried and true OS, thousands of available apps, some free, most reasonably priced, and now, with third party parts and support available, an extended life span and tons of hacks it's a wonder why Sony is crying foul. Tapwave, with it's inherent beauty had to be eliminated. Albeit, a great device, PSP suffered from poor price point, poor marketing, poor warranty and now, will be buttoned up tighter than Bush's ass after losing Delay and Rove. I will do what I want with my PSP. There are plenty of games and emulators and homebrew to keep me busy. They can shove their UMD, somebody's working on it, I guarantee. There will be burning, it is inevitable, hell, there's already an aftermarket hdd.
Posted by (1 comment )
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Vacation Sony?
Sony has been the kingpins of gaming entertainment for many years now. They've blown big name franchises out of the water! They've demolished the pioneers of the gaming industry.
Sony came with the PS1 and killed the Sega Dreamcast and completely demolished the Nintendo N64. The PS2 came out and killed the Gamecube and slipped out of Microsoft's X-Box hands like a wet fish. The only reason I still like Sony is becuase they have become a friend to the people they sell their stuff to. X-Box wanted you to pay for internet membership. Sony just wanted you to experience something new by getting online. The same should be with the PSP. Sony should sick back and take it easy. What do they have to lose with a device to flexible. It's almost like a giant self-absorbing blob that can take the form of anything!!! It's great!
Posted by (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Vacation Sony?
Sony has been the kingpins of gaming entertainment for many years now. They've blown big name franchises out of the water! They've demolished the pioneers of the gaming industry.
Sony came with the PS1 and killed the Sega Dreamcast and completely demolished the Nintendo N64. The PS2 came out and killed the Gamecube and slipped out of Microsoft's X-Box hands like a wet fish. The only reason I still like Sony is becuase they have become a friend to the people they sell their stuff to. X-Box wanted you to pay for internet membership. Sony just wanted you to experience something new by getting online. The same should be with the PSP. Sony should sick back and take it easy. What do they have to lose with a device to flexible. It's almost like a giant self-absorbing blob that can take the form of anything!!! It's great!
Posted by (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Missing Link
I've figured it out! It's so obvious!

The PSP was never designed to be an actual hardware component. (Let me explain)

The logic was to get the PSP out there to rival the other 'peices-of-crap' on the market. Think about it:

Nintendo continues to revitalize old designs.
Gameboy DS - The Mr. Game and Watch handheld
GBA was promised a backlight. GBA SP got a faulty one.
The Gamecube was the first attempt at playing CDs from Nintendo. (No internet, no music CD playback, no DVD support, no nothing... just games.)

Where the heck is SEGA!?!
Selling it's idols to... Nintendo and anyone else who can make Sonic into an action hero again.

Microsoft X-Box is leaving powerful hardware untouched like Bill Gate's weight room.

And finally...

Sony is rivaling itself.
Sony actually lost money when they released the PS2. People didn't buy DVD players anymore from Sony. CD player sells declined. You had almost everything packed in one box.

Sony put all of its apples in one basket!

The PSP is actually a periphral for the PS3. That's my thought. They had to make it appeal to people, so they added on everything which leads to my next question:

Why do people still buy IPods?! Every five minutes a new one is released with some dumb commercial trying to tell us crap like, "The IPod Cell had a screen 4 inches long, now the IPod Molecule has a screen about a fraction of a quater inch bigger. wow... The PSP uses UMD format and can do more than play music and other things.

And Sony wants to take that thinking away from us by saying, "Step on a hack and break your mother's PSP?!?"

Great thinking Mr. Sony CEO President sir... You're losing more money than you're spending.
Posted by (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
play 2.71 on a 1.50 psp
Posted by benwr_666 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Yeh, you wish Sony!
Go Homebrew Hackers, Beat this sony. you're badly loosing the war against you ledgends who can crack evey tiny lock you put on your firmwares with the ledgends M33, DaX, Fanjita, N00bz, Hallo 007 &#38; so many more! Keep the work up hackers, luving it!
Posted by bbfreebie (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Seriously, what is Sony's problem? I can understand where they are coming from to a degree: when you purchase software (such as the PSP's operating system, or whatever it is), you are simply paying for a liscense to it. Technically you don't own the copy of the software: you only own a liscense to use it and a CD/DVD to install it. However, I don't see why Sony wouldn't be praising this with open arms. This is a chance for the general population to tweak and add new features to anm already awesome unit, adding what we feel we need. They could even open a download center for all the cool homebrew apps people have developed :).

I hope they change their mind to all this at some point (they probably wont :P) because it would leave a happier, more open, thriving community.
Posted by Shad0wSn1per (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Sony didn't create the Playstation Portable so people could hack it .

I'd say a good 60% of people who buy the PSP is to hack it .
So Sony should be going after the websites who Host The Games for download. (torrent websites)

Because there the problem not the people hacking it themselves if Sony would only realise that
then there wouldn't be as big as a problem . I'd say about every other person(who have hacked there PSP) or so who bought the PSP would Sell it or just throw it in there Drawer if Sony Patched the PSP permanently from any Unsigned-code being ran on it ever again . The only reason I would ever play it again is to play GTA or something .

Sony is dumb at the Same time when they Have Mp3's out there and Video players and such then they release the PSP of course there's going to be a downfall in sales for those products . Why buy an Mp3 player and a Video Player that adds up to 300$ + when you can buy the PSP and have cash left over ?

If Sony joined the Hacking Community the Psp would revolutionize all modern Game systems as we know it because right now face it they Have no good software . I encourage all Hackers (Dark_Alex and others) To keep up the Great work . They're what makes the PSP so fun and worthwhile not Sony .
Posted by Quick0rn0t (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Hello I would like to say one thing to sony..

I bought my psp and i can do anything i wan't with it,yes my psp is hacked i have GBA,NES,and even nintendo 64 on it,my CFW is 5.00M33-6 sony just give it up,our hackers are too beast for your software,join us if u cant beat us then join us.
Posted by xzDreamerxz (1 comment )
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