The PlayStation 5 only launched a year ago this week, but already hackers appear to have made massive breakthroughs in potentially jailbreaking the latest Sony console. Both theFlow0 and Fail0verflow posted screenshots on Twitter over the weekend indicating they managed to unlock the PS5’s debug mode and access the tools necessary to decrypt part of its firmware.
TheFlow0, well known in the homebrew scene for his past work opening up the PlayStation Vita, struck first, posting an image early Sunday morning of the PS5’s setting menu with a brand new option for “Debug Settings” at the very bottom. Those are normally reserved for development kits so companies can test their games, but it appearing on a standard PS5 could indicate that TheFlow0 has found some sort of PS5 kernel exploit, Vita hacker Wololo suggests.
— Andy Nguyen (@theflow0) November 7, 2021
As others noted, theFlow0’s screenshot was also sent to Twitter using the PS5’s built in sharing capability, making it that much more unlikely that it was faked. In recent years, the hacker has collected some $US20,000 (A$26,955) in bounties from bringing security issues to Sony’s attention.
“No plans for disclosure,” he wrote yesterday. “No ETA.”
That was followed up with a message from the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 hacking group fail0verflow at the end of the day. It published a small portion of what it claimed were internal PS5 root keys for decrypting the console’s firmware.
Another one bites the dust ???? pic.twitter.com/Y1ty93AvaE
— fail0verflow (@fail0verflow) November 8, 2021
“Translation: We got all (symmetric) PS5 root keys,” the group wrote. “They can all be obtained from software — including per-console root key, if you look hard enough!”
Neither theFlow0 or fail0verflow seem set to release more information about how they managed to do these things anytime soon, so it’s unclear how rapidly things will move from here. While hacked consoles can inevitably facilitate piracy, they can also be used to run things like Linux, thus opening the PS5 up to PC games or emulators for old consoles. It didn’t take long for some people to start pointing out online the implications jailbreaking the PS5 would have for unofficial backwards compatibility with the PS2 and PS3.
The PS3 came out in 2006, but it wasn’t until 2011 that hackers cracked it wide open. Similarly, the PS4 came out in 2013, and methods for jailbreaking became widely available only in 2018. So even if these latest breakthroughs in hacking the PS5 are accurate, it could still be a while until jailbroken PS5s up on Ebay. Not that such information will be any comfort to Sony. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.