Is Your Private Information Safe With Sony?

[Disclaimer: Just Push Start does not under any circumstances condone piracy. The opinion of this writer doesn’t reflect the views of Just Push Start.]

As we all know Sony are currently in a legal battle with the likes of Geohot and a number of other hackers, in an attempt to try and kill the PS3 hacking scene before, in their opinion; too much damage is done. In recent months the PS3 has been hacked to pieces with hackers completely disabling the PS3s security and being able to run homebrew, as well as bring Linux back to the system. Many Sony fans are calling for the ban hammer, but are Sony really as innocent as they make out?

PS3 Dev SKFU posted a link on his twitter to an article by a group named, “The Anonymous Data Protection Officers”, discussing the security of the Playstation Network. Here is the full article below:


Due our objective research of the SONY PlayStation Network, we decrypted nearly 100% of the traffic transferred over proxies, http and https to and from the PSN. Just out of curiosity, not to harm anyone or anything and not like SONY may want people to see it. As SONY calls the scene hackers “evil”, we surely do not address pirates and skiddies, we wondered how SONY is treating the users’ privacy and rights (remember the Music CD/DVD and USB stick root kits). After we noticed a few badass functions they have built into the PSN/PS3 functionality, we just call it the “Call of Privacy: Modern Spyware” case.
Below we list and explain a few of the shady PSN functions and data mining stuff. And remember: EVERYONE has a right to know about YOUR OWN PRIVATE data being transferred over the networks !
Sensitive data

Even if a connection is SSL encrypted, companies are aware of the big risk behind custom CA files and it’s possibilities. SONY seems not to care about those known vulnerabilities. It is a big company and a HUGE network. With huge we mean a magnitude of hundreds and even thousands: the PSN utilizes thousands of servers, handled by a very small group of administrators and quality assurance people.  The IP ranges and domains of these servers are retrievable by anyone, cause this is how the Internet works ! It is all public data and information ! An example is the credit card information and the login authentification itself.
Take a look at the traffic:
The credit card information should ALWAYS be encrypted. In ANY case. At least the security code. SONY is only relying on it’s https connection. With all those CFWs spreading around, this is not secure anymore. Same goes for the user details:
Such sensitive data can now be captured by anyone who builds his own custom firmware with custom certificates. There are enough n00b-friendly tools by now. Means, little script kiddies can spread their little CFWs and phish user data. As many of these people are using a third party DNS, they are a potential victim of phishing. At the beginning of the PS3 launch, this user data was even transferred over http ! That being said, we continue with…
Information gathering

The PlayStation Network agreement states that SONY is allowed to collect nearly any data that is connected with your privacy. It is clear, that SONY won’t tell you WHAT they are collecting in the TOS etc., as many people would never accept that TOS. A few month ago we noticed the TOS silently being updated without a new user agreement request. It was about that you have the right to contact a “Data Protection Officer” at SCEE, who can can give you details about what data is collected. So we phoned SCEE. Being forwarded to many people, it turned out that there is no so called “Data Protection Officer”. Funny right? Shortly after this call, the clause was removed from the TOS. SONY itself told us, that they do not know, what we are talking about regarding this Officer. They told us, that there was never such a position inside SONY, neither a phone number. Even the address was non existing ! Still it is an impudence what huge amounts of data they are collecting. One example is an information list which is transferred every time you login the PSN as well as at some random time.
A few short quotes:
This is a string sent to SONY which includes your TV model. The list is long and contains a lot more like information about attached USB devices, your home network, your playtime behaviour, installed games, apps, homebrews or their so called “circumvention devices” and so on. Details about your Home network, statistics etc. Modern user tracking we guess.  They try to make every PSN user transparent like a glass figurine. It seems that not only the governments are going for such plans.
The BAN Hammer

Now SONY is swinging the “mighty” ban hammer. Some users are banned, some are only warned. But who warns SONY? Their semi-legal tactics against the end-user are a joke. We again remember their root kits on Audio Media and USB Sticks. Just for your interest, we quote a guy from SONY:
Thomas Hesse, President of Sony’s Global Digital Business, literally says: “Most people, I think, don’t even know what a root kit is, so why should they care about it?”
This is not an urban legend ->

So we could take this for an example and say: “Most people inside SONY don’t even know what security is, so why should they care about it?” If SONY cares about their customers, why are they treating them like totally douchebags ? Of course the quote does not reflect the view of the company itself, but HELL, this was not from a Jon Doe inside SONY, it was from a Department’s President !
The PSN is a core feature of the PlayStation3, like OtherOS was. So why do they ban the PSN of users who LEGALLY run homebrew (not backups!) on their consoles? Just because they do not like it? It is a fact that reversing a system is legal in most countries all over the world, and if someone who really only wants to run his own code (no, not backups!), which he legally signed and coded without any SONY libraries or documentation, would sue SONY, they would may lose. Reverse engineering is also allowed for analysing purposes. E.g. is a software/hardware implementing/running, rootkits, spyware, malicious code, security flaws, transferring privacy data and so on. Imagine if this wouldn’t be legal, any antivirus software would break the law ! The companies of antivirus software are reverse engineering virus code, that is NOT copyrighted by them ! So why are those companies allowed to RE and even PUBLISH their findings to the public but not people like fail0verflow etc. ? By studying the PSN since its launch we know it’s vulnerabilities pretty good right now and unbanning consoles might be as easy as banning consoles. It is an infinite circle of “who-is-better”. Sony just cannot, or just don’t want to, make a clear distinction between pirates & skiddies and hackers, who only want to OWN and UTILISE what they OWN and PAID for. Hackers are responsible for creating stuff like the PC, Unix, Windows, Macs, the Internet, the WWW, AAA games etc. Guess what IBM is calling their Cell/Hypervisor docs ? Make an educated guess: Hackers Guide.
Research Hypervisor Hackers Guide:

This document is intended for programmers who wish to discuss the code of the Research Hypervisor Project. It also attempts to introduce the hopes and dreams of the maintainers of the code that, hopefully, will make those dreams a reality.

One last thing:
Our research is based on PUBLIC information, Hardware/Software we OWN and PAID for and the right for our PRIVACY to be PROTECTED !
– The Anonymous Data Protection Officers

Download the PDF here.

With this information revealed do you feel safe with how Sony are looking after your personal information? Your credit card details are being transferred across PSN unencrypted. I’m no law expert but this could be in breach of data protection laws in Europe and America. Let us know how you feel below.

8 thoughts on “Is Your Private Information Safe With Sony?

  1. you should check the update on this story.

    this only affects those who use custom firmware, not legit users.

  2. and how does this effect me and other non hackers how? If you hack i do believe you deserved to be banned for life. Other Os was not a huge factor to the ps3 it was only to hackers thats it i don’t know no body that used that feature and if sony is using a root kit i still don’t care how does it effect me and other non hackers thats right it doesn’t.

  3. I guess you read Ben Kuchera’s article and copied it. You should also copy his update that says only modified PS3s are in danger.

  4. Unencrypted over the PSN? Do a packet capture while you make a credit card transaction and tell me if you can find your unencrypted credit card data.

  5. You are wrong. All users are at risk not just thoise with different firmware.

    Need proof? Write to Sony in your country and see if Sony will offer a guarantee of damages should any private information be intercepted from a NON modified PS3…. They won’t guarentee your safety and always fall behind the “best effort” clause in their terms and conditions.

    All PS3 users irrespective of model, geography or level of firmware does not offer secure transactions.

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