There was a time, not so long ago, when the term jailbreak referred to an innocent version of tag – a favorite past time of children everywhere. In this digital age however those children have grown more sophisticated and would rather participate in a game of digital cat and mouse; the right to run homebrew applications and games on the Sony Playstation 3. Sony is threatened that it's console has been corrupt forever. Jailbreaking a device allows its users to run applications that were not originally intended for that device, including but not limited to backup copies of PS3 games. Earlier this month – January 2011 – news hit the Internet that a group of hackers had jailbroken the Playstation 3 console. This latest hack allows users to exploit the systems root key in order to access the ability to play backup games as well as run homebrew applications on the system. Sony has been scrambling ever since to find a way to counter this attack.

Since news first hit of the PS3 jailbreak, the infamous hacker known widely as GeoHot has stepped forward to claim responsibility for the hack. George ‘GeoHot’ Hotz gained popularity when he and a group of other hackers jailbroke Apple’s iPhone and iPad Touch. 

This is not the first attempt that has been made in order to concoct a PS3 jailbreak. Last year – 2010 – the security of the system was corrupted when a PS3 USB dongle – a dongle is a USB device that allows users to bypass a system’s security measures – was released that allowed owners to run the Linux application on the PS3 as well as giving users the capability to copy – backup games – to play from the systems hard drive or an external hard drive. Since then, Sony released a system wide update to fix that problem. Now, however, that system update is no longer relevant thanks to this latest PS3 jailbreak. The Playstation’s root key was the last line of defense that the system had in order to prevent users from running illegal applications and backup games on the system. Since the hack was discovered the PS3 root key has been widely published across the Internet and many users of the system are taking advantage of the security leak.

The ability to access the system's root key allows gamers to not only unlock trophies to games without playing them, it unlocks the ability to play backup games and homebrews, such as a hacked version of Super Mario Bros. or other games that have been created or hacked by other users. While being used along with the PS3 USB dongle it is now possible to play any copied PS3 game on the system without the need of a game disc. In response to this massive hole that the system now has, Sony has announced the possibility of having to issue serial codes for all future PS3 games. 

Although the use of these codes has been deemed somewhat archaic by most game enthusiasts, it is not an unfamiliar practice to gamers who play on the PC. It is a security measure that has been implemented for many years to protect games from being copied and played. Each game would come with a code that must be entered into the system before a user can play the game, in turn, each code can only be submitted a set number of times before that copy of the game is locked. If this is the action that must be taken by Sony the future sale of used PS3 games looks grim, as naturally when the given code has expired the disc is rendered unplayable. 

While it is unclear what the future holds for the security of Sony’s console at the moment, the company has already filed a lawsuit against the hackers, an action that has garnished them even more unfavorable publicity, whether it is deserved or not. There is an ongoing debate whether Sony has the right to pursue any sort of legal action. Many people, including those at the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation), agree that once a console is purchased the user is free to do with it whatever they so choose.

Here's a video by GeoHot showing a PS3 running homebrew on firmware 3.55!

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