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Appeared on: Friday, December 31, 2010
Weak Cryptography Keys Exploit PS3's Security Measures Against Running Linux

Despite Sony's "efforts" to patch the security holes of the PS3 game console and lock out Linux sofware apps, hackers are now claiming that they have managed to gain access to the system's innards by taking advantage PS3's poor use of public key cryptography.

According to a team of hackers called "fail0verflow," the PS3 private signing key or ECDSA signature was exposed (Digital Signature Algorithm). The group located this private cryptographic key needed to sign off on high-level operations. Such keays are generally hard to be exposed and according to their complexity, they require running many generations of keys to crack.

The hackers worked backawrds: They used the generated keys and soon they discovered that a parameter (k) that should have been randomized for each key generation wasn't being randomized at all. And since the PS3 was using the same number for that variable, it was easy to work out acceptable keys using simle algebra. If you are interested in cryptogry, you may read this blog post describing how essential the use of a random parameter (k) in the DSA is in order a system to be safe against hacks.

"It is extremely important that all bits of parameter k be unique, unpredictable, and secret. With two DSA signatures on separate messages with the same k, you can recover the signer?s private key," the team says.

At the 27th Chaos Communication Congress, the team talked about various hacks that users can use to gain control of their PS3 and make it run their own code.

2010 saw the first hacks for the Playstation 3, soon after Sony removed Other OS functionality. The team described how Sony went wrong when designing its security system, and show how these holes can be used to gain control over the system and bring Linux back to the PS3.


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