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New PS3 jailbreak beats latest firmware update with downgrade

Sony’s 3.50 firmware update was supposed to end the threat of jailbreaking on the Playstation 3 once and for all. Not so fast, say the developers of the notorious PS Jailbreak. The team, which started all of the trouble with the release of the original Playstation 3 hack in August of this year, has announced a new workaround for Playstation 3s with firmware versions higher than 3.41. The latest exploit isn’t a true jailbreak. Rather, it works by downgrading the firmware to earlier versions which then can be jailbroken via the tried and true methods already deployed.

Sony can’t be happy about the news. Jailbreaking a Playstation 3 overrides the console’s internal security checks and allows for games to be copied to local storage devices and the ability to run custom applications on the console. Some Playstation 3 owners see this as just making full use of the technology that they own. Sony, of course, sees jailbreaking as a serious security threat that exposes Playstation 3 software to piracy risks.

PS Jailbreak was released in August as the first widely available Playstation 3 hack. The program was contained on a USB dongle that was sold through distributors listed on the PS Jailbreak website. Australia became the first country to ban PS Jailbreak making it illegal to import or sell within the country.

In October, Sony released the 3.50 firmware upgrade which closed the security loopholes exploited by jailbreakers. Sony also moved in the direction of mandatory firmware upgrades by making Electronic Arts’ latest Call of Duty game unplayable without first updating to the 3.50 firmware (which was conveniently provided on the games’ disc.) Voluntary installation of the upgrade was also supported and encouraged.

PS Jailbreak’s firmware downgrade procedure of course rolls back Sony’s security blockade and re-opens the door to jailbreaking and to all the things that Sony fears will go with it.

It’s not clear how or when Sony might address this latest exploit. However, it is now starting to appear that the Playstation 3 might never be completely safe from hacking no matter what measures are implemented. Just ask Apple’s iOS security team: if jailbreak developers aren’t already ahead, then they’re likely not far behind.