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Sony files restraining order in PS3 hacker spat

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PlayStation 3: hacked

Last week, hacking  team fail0verflow threw a firecracker into the PlayStation 3 world when they announced they'd cracked the popular console's hardware encryption, allowing savvy owners to run non-approved (or
"homebrew") programs.

Now Sony's throwing firecrackers of their own. The electronics giant filed suit in a California court today accusing fail0verflow and others of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and computer fraud
legislation, among other things, and requesting the hackers turn over
their computer equipment and pay an unspecified amount in damages.

Often termed "jailbreaking," breaking console encryption is a popular tactic
among some gamers, who employ the technique to install software that
improves/changes the functionality of their machines. But it's decidedly
less popular among console manufacturers, who oppose it because it also
allows gamers to circumvent the lockouts that normally prevent them
running pirated games.

Sony is aiming to prevent the hackers from distributing their cracks, and to
ban them from further efforts to affect Sony hardware. According to
Sony's filings, pirated games are already being distributed together
with protection circumvention measures produced by the group.

Until just a few months ago, the Playstation 3's protection was by far the
most secure of all current-generation gaming hardware. The rapid
turnaround is said by some observers to be related to Sony's decision
last year to eliminate the "Other OS" ability of PS3s, which let owners
install alternative operating systems on their consoles. It was a
decision that angered some tech-savvy PS3 owners, who are (unfortunately
for Sony) exactly the sort of people with the know-how to crack a
console's lockout codes.

The legal status of such activity on gaming consoles remains somewhat
murky. Jailbreaking is especially popular on Apple devices, where it
allows consumers to bypass the restrictive approval policies of the
official App Store -- and after a drawn-out struggle between Apple and
hackers, federal regulators officially declared the practice legal back
in July.

Sony has pledged to issue PlayStation 3s with software updates eliminating
the vulnerability, although it remains unclear to what extent they will
be successful. Some of the hackers believe they have uncovered an
inherent weakness of the machine that can only be addressed with
hardware revisions.


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