It's Mad Easy To Hack The PlayStation Classic

The PlayStation Classic was a great idea that was disappointingly executed. Not surprisingly, hackers have been hard at work trying to crack the novelty console as they’ve done already with Nintendo’s NES Classic and SNES Classic.

The job’s been made easier, the hackers claim, thanks to Sony reportedly housing the key to decoding the PlayStation Classic’s firmware on the device itself, rather than utilising a private key held by Sony. The underlying code that runs on game console is encrypted to prevent people from tampering with it, but in this case the tools to unlock and start changing how the console operates were available to anyone who dug through the code by copying it onto a PC.

As first reported by Ars Technica, console hacker yifanlu pointed it out on Twitter late last week in-between streaming his attempts to break open the console’s digital architecture on Twitch.

So far they’ve been able to play unincluded PS1 games like Spyro using a thumb drive and are currently working on getting other emulators working on it as well.

“There really isn’t any security on the device at all,” yifanlu told Kotaku in an email. “Sony managed to accidentally include their firmware update private keys on every console.”

While it might take a little more time for homebrew developers to start changing how the PlayStation Classic’s menu system works so it displays new games and box art, simply playing them on the PlayStation Classic was easy. “The 20 included games are stored on the device in standard ISO format,” yifanlu said.

“There’s no additional checks, so you can just replace the files or redirect the mount to somewhere else (like a USB drive).” In effect, you can get the PlayStation classic to load games and programs from other devices because there aren’t any security checks to stop that from happening.

In the last few days, yifanlu and others have been testing out games like Crash Bandicoot 1 and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, some of the PS1’s most recognisable titles that never made it onto the PlayStation Classic.

Currently, hackers have been able to load games off USB drives by substituting them for games already on the console. Actually expanding the interface to display more than 20 games will require some more fine-tuning.

One homebrew developer, Pat Hartl, is currently working on a program called BleemSync that would be the PlayStation Classic’s equivalent of hakchi, the software used to install ROMs on the NES and SNES Classics. Of course, playing around with any of this stuff always brings the risk of bricking your console.

For yifanlu’s part, they’re more disappointed by the PlayStation Classic’s lack of security more so than the fact that it’s missing Crash Bandicoot. “My opinion is that Sony doesn’t really care about this console,” yifanlu said.

“Everything about it was cut corners including the security. It was a bit of a shame how easy it was to hack considering the Vita was one of the most secure consoles ever released.”

Sony did not respond to a request by Kotaku for comment. 


Comments

    The fact that the base emulation is so poor means that even with the ability to add more games I still won't bite.

    Better emulation and dualshock support and I'll be back on board.

      It's using PCSX to emulate which is currently the best possible PS1 emulator so not sure what you are talking about with wanting better emulation?

      The performance problems with the onboard games are due to using the PAL versions and a general lack of cpu/gpu/ram resources.

        They might be using PCSX, But how they have it set up is entirely substandard. There are a lot of settings in PCSX that sony could easily enable that has the potential to massively increase the playing experience/ Quality.

          You can change those settings yourself if you want to - keyboard support wasn't disabled.
          Or just install the patch.

            My point is that these settings should have been set by Sony in the first place.

      Buy or build your own retropie.

      Its cheaper and has better hardware.

        I literally bought the Classic for the case and controllers. It's actually beautiful. It was also easy asf to figure out BleemSync. All settings including scanlines can be set and newer patches will obv add even more but thats my opinion

    Ooh I like the name! I remember Bleem quite fondly! It ran Street Fighter Alpha 3 and others like a dream.

    I’ve seen vids with comparisons to the snes mini running ps1 games better than the ps classic.

    So why would people want Sony to be more competent in locking this device down? Device security isn't going to improve the emulation experience, and just means that after-market modification is more difficult or impossible.

      It's less about wanting them to lock it down and more about taking it as a sign of how much effort Sony really put in to it. The thing is that Sony is competent at security. They just gave so few shits about this product that they couldn't be assed with doing the basics

        Just like the level of security the PlayStation Network had back in the PS3 era. Wasn't it a month and a half of downtime.

    After seeing what happened with the NES and SNES Classic, I'd assumed Sony probably figured it would be hacked anyway, so why bother putting any effort into it.

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