In an exclusive talk with CNET, a person associated with the first group to hack the Sony PlayStation Vita told us how and why it happened, and what to expect as they develop the exploit.
Those hoping to see a PlayStation Vita hack could have their wishes answered in a few months. A group of anonymous programmers has announced that they have discovered an exploit, allowing them application-level (userland) access into the Sony gaming device.
Before you get all excited about the idea of illegally downloading full PS Vita games, you should know that this purported hack can't grant such abilities. However, if the group of developers create a loader, the hack could open the door for homebrew, and more importantly, emulation. Which means that one day, the Vita could play Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Nintendo DS, Sega and many other games, similar to a hacked PSP.
CNET reached out to "Yifanlu", one of the involved hackers, via a private internet relay chat (IRC) channel. The hacker described himself as a student with a hobby in reverse engineering, and said that the hack, which exists in the "very early stages", took several months to discover. Finding it, however, allowed the group to run a memory dump to learn more about the Vita's brains.
What he said next may surprise you.
"As a developer, I am completely against piracy," Yifanlu said, when queried about his intentions for the Vita hack. "My tools, when released, cannot be used for that purpose."
Unsurprisingly, Yifanlu's further comments about his motivations echo Vita sentiments seen around the web. "I got a Vita on launch date, because I believe the system has a big potential. And I still do, but right now, there really isn't that many good new games out," Yifanlu noted. "I thought I could juice some use out of this $300 device, if I can run homebrew on it."
"I'm glad to say that one of the biggest 'advantages' of having a userland exploit (rather than the more desirable kernel exploit), is that it is impossible to run backup/pirated/copied Vita games using this flaw I've found," said Yifanlu.
When asked for proof of the exploit, Yifanlu said, "I could [proabably] get a 'pretty' hello world done by next week. Right now, the hello world can't be seen on screen, but is observable indirectly, and we know that code is running."
Any interested parties wishing to learn more about the progress of the Vita hack should keep up with Yifanlu's website (Twitter account) and his related forum topic. Developers hungry to help can check out his Vita hack Github code repository for more details.