PlayStation 4 hack enables Linux on recent Sony firmware

A showcase event at this week’s GeekPwn conference in Shanghai suggests that Sony’s PlayStation 4 has been hacked, as a recently released video shows the console running an unsanctioned Linux build courtesy of a web browser exploit.

While details regarding the hack are not yet known, a browser-based security issue in PS4 firmware version 4.01 could potentially allow users to root the upcoming PlayStation 4 Pro console in order to run unlicensed applications and games.

Originally seen at GeekPwn this week, the video above purports to show that Sony’s current-gen gaming console can be rooted by visiting a specific website within its built-in web browser. After confirming that the featured PlayStation 4 unit has been updated with its latest Sony-issued system software, members of the Pavilion Safety Research Lab point the console’s web browser to a site that appears to install rooting software.

The video then jump-cuts to a command line interface, which soon becomes what appears to be a fully fledged Linux installation. The pair then demonstrates the hack’s potential applications by loading up a Nintendo Entertainment System emulator and playing the original Super Mario Bros. using the PS4’s DualShock 4 controller.

Previous PlayStation 4 system hacks required firmware version 1.76, which has long been superseded by multiple downloadable updates from Sony. PS4 consoles with legacy firmware have since become rare, as new console shipments are bundled with more recent system software.

While Sony has issued updated PS4 firmware that will likely address the new exploit, Eurogamer notes that initial shipments of Sony’s upgraded PlayStation 4 Pro console are likely to include the same system software as seen in the video above, potentially allowing hackers to root the console at launch.

The PlayStation 4 has been a particular target for hackers since the unveiling of December’s fail0verflow hack, which allowed the console to boot Linux builds.

“Linux on the PS4 actually makes a lot of sense, more than it ever did on any previous game console,” fail0verflow previously stated. “It’s close enough to a PC that getting 3D acceleration working, while rather painful (as we’ve learned), seems entirely possible without undue effort (in a timeframe of months, not years), to the level needed for real indie games and even AAA titles, not just homebrew.”

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