Did Sony Cause The Spark That Lead To The PSN Outage?

Back in April of 2010 Sony released a firmware update for the PS3 that removed a feature from the console rather than adding one.  That feature was the “Install Other OS” option that let gamers install a Linux OS on older models of the PS3.  Even though this option came with limited uses it was still loved by a small community.

In the hacker community, prior to the firmware update, many saw the PS3 as easy pickings due to Sony willingly giving the ability to install an open source OS.  Maybe this is why the PS3 saw little to no piracy for so long when the PSP, Wii and Xbox 360 were getting their share of pirated games, security cracks and custom firmware installs.  Hackers just did not see the challenge.

Then Sony opened the flood gates with Firmware v3.21.  One look at PlayStation’s official blog post when the firmware was released will show a bit of the community outcry that occurred after the news.  The Internet continued to light up with people voicing their feelings over the matter.

Back then I remember one podcast I listened to made the statement that PS3 was seen as too easy to hack due to Linux and was why so few ever saw news about a pirated game or crack on the the PS3, when all other systems were seeing their fair share.  Now they had a reason and a match was lit.  Soon after the firmware’s release, hacks started popping up in the news about installing flash emulators or downgrading the firmware.  It seemed as though they were getting closer and closer to adding PS3 to the listed of consoles that could play illegally pirated games.

Then in August 2010, news came of group (or individual) that was going to sell a USB key that would allow anyone to rip games and play them from the hard drive sans disk.  The PSJailbreak seemed like it was going to pose a huge threat to Sony if it’s claims were true and so they sought to take down the chip before it reached consumer’s hands.  Filing multiple lawsuits, it was able to ban the sale of the device in AustraliaEurope and the US.  But the device still managed to reach some people’s hands.

Then there was also GeoHot (aka George Hotz), who released an exploit to the public and was subsequently sent a restraining order by Sony.  The battle there after is well known and eventually settled out of court but during the trial a group of hackers going by the alias Anonymous sought revenge for George Hotz. For one day they managed to cause problems for PS3 gamers attempting to log into their accounts.  They soon realized this attack was hurting the gamers and not just Sony so they retracted and said they would work on a better plan.

That brings us to today.  Currently the PlayStation Network has been down for over a week and Sony has publicly noted that users account information has been stolen.  It has been advised that once the network re-opens that users immediately change their passwords and watch for phishing scams.  Credit card information is said to be encrypted but this is nothing but bad news for the company.  So following the chain of events one may ask themselves, would all of this have happened if Sony had not removed the ability to install Linux on your PS3?  Not to say that it was right for the hacker(s) to breach the system either.  But it all makes for an interesting timeline.  I for one just would like to be able to play my Portal 2 co-op.

Written by Bryan

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