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PSP 2.0 Firmware cracked

Buffer overflow exploit opens up possibilities of homebrewed code on Sony's PSP.

    by
  • CNET Australia staff

When Sony released the PSP earlier this year, many a gadget groper's eyes lit up.

The possibilities of tinkering with the portable's insides seemed almost limitless. Several applications for the PSP began appearing on the Web, with programs ranging from Atari 2600 emulators for some retro gaming to ones that turned the PSP into a TV remote control.

To countermeasure possible piracy and illegal trading that could cost them millions, Sony has periodically released firmware upgrades that prevent hacks and homebrewed code to be run on the handheld. The upgrades aren't strictly for security measures, as each upgrade also has minor system updates.

The most recent release by Sony, Firmware 2.0, added a Web browser and other additions while functioning as a steel curtain for hackers. Many foreign PSP owners that run user-created programs on their PSPs refused to upgrade to 2.0, as the upgrade blocks several unlicensed programs from running.

We in Australia missed out on most of this, of course, with the PSP only being released on 1 September. It was also bundled with Firmware 2.0, shutting out the hacks from earlier this year.

But web site PSP Updates is reporting that hackers may not be shut out after all. One amateur programmer has allegedly made a file that "allows for a buffer overflow to be run via the photos menu in Sony PSP firmware v2.0". The tech jargon may be over the heads of most casual gamers, but in layman's terms it means that homebrewed coding for PSPs that are running Firmware 2.0 may be possible in the future.

The author of the file makes it clear that the program was not intended to be used by pirates looking to load illegal copies of pirated games. "We didn't do this so you could steal from Sony and game companies. We believe in OSS (Open Source Software). There are plenty of amazing programs that have been written for the PSP. Use this as a gift and not as an excuse to steal."

He also left a note to Sony. "If you wanted to find us I know you could. This release wasn't intended as a way to run pirated software on the PSP. We believe that everyone should be able to compile their own code and run it. Nothing is kept secret forever and I'm sure you know this. In the end, if it wasn't us, it would be some one else. Fighting it would be like skating up a hill. You did create the PSP and did an amazing job."

Though fans aren't required to upgrade their firmware (the update has to be installed manually), Sony will begin requiring PSPs to run the latest firmware to play certain games.

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