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PlayStation Classic’s hacking abetted by slipshod encryption

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Hackers find (relatively) easy way to get different games on the device

PlayStation Classic - console held in hand Sony Interactive Entertainment

That the PlayStation Classic is hackable, and was on the first day, isn’t a big surprise. Simply hooking up the correct type of USB keyboard and hitting the escape key gets you behind the curtain to a menu of concealed emulation options. Hackers have since discovered another way to get into the mini console and unlock it for other uses, such as playing other PSOne games not included.

The reason for this is either a mistake or a feature, depending on your view of the PlayStation Classic’s designers. A console hacker (via Ars Technica) discovered that the device’s system is signed and encrypted with a key hidden, and not very well, in the unit itself (as opposed to a key held separately by Sony).

Where does this all lead? It means that it’s relatively easy for PlayStation Classic owners to put new games onto the console with a USB thumb drive. That, of course, requires some editing of databases and other files, so this isn’t consumer-level hackery. But for those familiar with such things (and mindful of the risk of bricking the system with an improperly formatted file), this qualifies as easy — easier than hacking the NES and SNES Classic Editions, anyway.

That means you can expect to see YouTube videos of PlayStation Classics running all kinds of crazy things in the coming days, including completely different emulators and operating systems, as hackers get to work on their open-source projects. The fact this was made possible by leaving the keys under the PlayStation Classic’s mat was either a big-time goof on Sony’s part, or a quiet courtesy to its more adventurous users.