The current state of Vita hacking (September, 2012)

The last few weeks have been extremely exciting for Vita hackers and gamers. Not only is Sony showing more and more support for the console, we’ve seen, if not always releases, proofs of many exciting hacks going on on the Vita. VHBL, PSP iso loading, native exploits, hardware investigations… Lots of things have changed since I last made a summary of the Vita hacking back in July, so it’s time for a new status report.

1. VHBL and the PSP emulator

As of now, VHBL is still the only way to run unsigned content (homebrews) on the PS Vita. Granted, VHBL is fairly limited (it won’t let you run any native vita code, or any isos), but that might also be the only reason Sony doesn’t definitely kill it: VHBL is mostly harmless to Sony for now, yet it will allow you to enjoy a large collection of emulators and homebrews. Although as I type this, the game we use as a vector for the latest exploit (the Monster hunter series) has been patched on the latest Vita firmware 1.81, we still have access to dozens of exploitable PSP games, in order to port VHBL, and I know that many devs are still looking for PSP exploits and port VHBL to their own exploit.

In parallel, we’ve seen more and more proof that a PSP CFW is definitely possible on the Vita. That would mean that most of the things we do on our hacked PSPs could become available within the PSP emulator on the vita: Iso loaders, potentially full PS1 support, better homebrew compatibility, potentially plugins support, etc… I have been made aware of more and more teams with access to some PSP Kernel exploits, and to me it is only a matter of time before one of these teams release a PSP CFW that would be compatible with the Vita.

On the other hand, investigations about Kermit, the module used for communication between the PSP emulator and the vita hardware, have been kept under wraps. Was any progress made on this, in order to access the Vita itself? At least nothing was made public, or communicated to me. Last time I checked, the vita has some pretty good securities in place to avoid “simple” buffer overflow exploits or stack corruption.

2. PS Vita NAtive exploit

While the investigations in the psp emu world seem to be “stuck” in the psp realm (a bit like the 3DS exploits allowing only NDS support), other breakthroughs have been made in other parts of the Vita. The most memorable one so far is Yifanlu’s announce of a Native vita exploit, which is believed to be somewhere in the Playstation Mobile suite. After the initial hype generated by his announce however, Yifanlu has tried to stay a bit more quiet about his progress. A “Hello World” video he published to showcase his exploit (showing a 3D cube floating in a room with lots of texture details) was quickly removed to avoid more unnecessary hype.

It is still a bit unclear if anything useful for the end user will come from this work. First because most of it has been kept secret so far, and second because it could be one of those exploits that gets patched immediately by Sony. But this work was made public only a few weeks ago, and Yifanlu already announced his loader is ready for a closed beta, so I’m very hopeful to see good things come out of this.

3. Hardware investigations, and people from the outside world

It is interesting to note that most of the Vita hacking community is for now made of people who came from the PSP community with a legacy interest in Sony’s portable consoles. That being said, Yifanlu came from a quite different world, bringing his experience from Kindle and Xperia play hacking.

Other hackers are getting interested in the Vita too. Such is the case of Japanese developer goroh_kun, who is locally known for his work on Android. goroh_kun claims he managed to make a memory dump of the Vita through PSM, and his reputation is backed by fellow scene blogger mamosuke at gamegaz.

In addition, goroh_kun started recently to look closely at the Vita hardware, something that in my opinion is very valuable, seeing how most recent console hacks have always stemmed from an initial hardware hack (psp, xbox, ps3…). Goroh_kun mentioned however legal issues with sharing his work, for example a memory dump of the Vita cannot easily be shared since it contains some copyrighted content from Sony.

Could hardware vulnerabilities give hackers access to the Vita CPU? This picture shows what could be a JTAG port.

VHBL still going strong, more and more proof of psp kernel exploits, a usermode native exploit, leads in other areas, and a hacking community that seems to start growing… Things seem to be on the bright side for Vita hackers, what do you guys think?

  1. Feriolll’s avatar

    I think of ballsacks

    Reply

    1. iRainbows’s avatar

      That’s not good for your health.

      Reply

  2. quetz’s avatar

    i think the ps Vita if hacked could really have a better future

    Reply

  3. Randqalan’s avatar

    This look promising look like Vita might get in the next year The psp treatment :D

    Reply

  4. ???’s avatar

    A JTAG on a Sony console? NOTACHANCE!!

    Reply

  5. Davee’s avatar

    I don’t understand the fascination with JTAG port. It’s unlikely to respond, as it did on PSP, history tends to repeat itself.

    Reply

    1. wololo’s avatar

      I4d say it’s likely that somebody who comes from the Android world might not assume that JTAG would ever be deactivated :)

      Reply

  6. PSVita’s avatar

    if Goroh_kun has copyright issues uploading the dump, he can use thepiratebay…… and post it anonymously….

    Reply

    1. garrei’s avatar

      …. and after sony’s been reading this blog post… who do you think sony will suspect?

      Reply

    2. tapsy’s avatar

      even if it was anonymously who else would have uploaded it but goroh_kun.

      Reply

  7. quetz’s avatar

    as now charles proxy doesn’t work to avoid update. i wonder if it’s possible to share psv contents already backed up with opencma, and licensing it to use on different systems. or maybe demo applications no need licensing? could this work somehow?

    Reply

    1. 0nyx’s avatar

      This video seems fake, there seems to be a significant delay between the moment a button is pressed and the moment the game reacts. I also think it would be impossible to play PS2 games at this point, as the Vita can’t natively run PS2 games, so a user made emulator would be necessary and we are too early in the Vita hack to hope to achieve this.

      The sad part about this? The user who posted this video is the one who also posted the multiple videos showing a Vita running PSP isos. So this was probably fake all along.

      Reply

      1. quetz’s avatar

        i will not say fake so fast… delay could be caused by not porting it to a psv system, but emulating ps 2 into PSP emulator though. the launch in the live area showed the psp emu, not psx o psv

        Reply

        1. quetz’s avatar

          could be remote desktop too…

          Reply

        2. loketar’s avatar

          In that case you essentially have a PS2 emulator running with a 333mhz core and 32mb of RAM, impossible by all standards I’m afraid

          Reply

      2. facepalmingATM’s avatar

        he says IN THE uploader comment “This video it’s not mine”

        Reply

    2. The End’s avatar

      That’s the trickery of using a shitty camera to record fake vids :)

      Reply

    3. Pirate Cat’s avatar

      Some games don’t run at fullspeed on PCs with more powerful hardware. It’s safe to chalk it up to nonsense until it’s verified/released by a credible source, like our resident blog overlord :).

      I’m all for the UM exploit. Full power for emulators, a good browser, a media player with better support, or whatever else the system can handle.

      Reply

    4. Miguel’s avatar

      you could see the light changing after he presses the button to start the game, sorry bud… it’s fake

      Reply

  8. Timberack’s avatar

    I haven’t played my PS Vita in months, but I play my hacked PSP almost daily, it’s fantastic news that so much has been accomplished sofar, I appreciate all the members of the community helping out. I’m waiting for the day where we have full Vita access, maybe then I will blow the dust off it.

    Reply

  9. Orelldo’s avatar

    I believe it will lead to great things for the Vita if it could be cracked open like the PSP, it has far more potential to become something great.

    Reply

  10. DESTROYER_ONER’s avatar

    it’s only the beginning!

    Reply

  11. meanmachine781’s avatar

    imagine if it could be hacked to play ps2 games!!!! fuck!

    Reply

  12. jdubs’s avatar

    Sony should just give in. Just imagine the amount of 32 & 64g memory sticks they would sell with a hacked vita. LOL! I know I would need that much space…if not more.

    Reply

  13. andi23mich’s avatar

    Would it be Possible to Hack the Vita so you can Switch to the Psp Emu with the XMB and all the stuff that an normal Psp has? That would be INSANE!!! It’s Iike 2 in 1 Console then.

    Reply

    1. PSVetoed!’s avatar

      You mean like dual booting? Dual boot the PS vita and PSP xmb with maybe a button combo or an gesture. Because that would be kind of cool

      Reply

      1. andi23mich’s avatar

        Yes, thats what i sort of mean, i meant to click on a exploited psp game on the vita and it starts the psp emu with the xmb and all. That would be really awsome

        Reply

    2. neverthewiseman’s avatar

      well it’s nice to dream sometimes. like Santa giving you Benjamins on Halloween’s day.

      Reply

  14. PSVITAGODZILLA’s avatar

    Well good to hear the scene is alive and well. I wish the vita gets hacked to the fullest, but ISO playing should be the least priority. Imagine all the stuff you can do with the vita if its gets hacked. Sony hasn’t put out its full potential on the vita yet. Can’t believe hackers are the one’s that are making the vita awesome with VHBL.

    -Sent from a PlayStation(R)Vita

    Reply

  15. PSVetoed!’s avatar

    PSVetoed!

    Reply

  16. nCadeRegal’s avatar

    good read, im up for any good news. Things will start happening soon if the vita follows the same course as the psp. just imagine in 2 to 3 years from now what we can and will be doing with our vitas!

    Reply

  17. randy is pseudo’s avatar

    i find it unfortunate to the EXTREMES that im not enjoying homebrew on my vita, it was fun to get the vhbl and all but ima update for now…and wait till a kernel exploit to run psp games legally! lol thanks anyways wololo and everyone else

    Reply

  18. ALcohol_HeroZz’s avatar

    hey wololo should i update my ps vita because at the same time i feel 2 play psn online and emulator if u was me what would you do??

    Reply

    1. wololo’s avatar

      I am not you. Personally, I’ll stick on 1.80 until I need to go to 1.81 for good reasons. If you need to play online, then you should update. VHBL does not bring much more than a hacked PSP, except the awesome screen and controls of the Vita.

      Reply

      1. ghadz’s avatar

        Just wanna ask you wololo, is it impossible to code the vhbl to PSM studio?

        Reply

  19. Brendan B.’s avatar

    I’d love to see a VHBL or PSP hack with homebrews and emulators but I really want to avoid piracy of PSP and Vita games. It’ll just kill the system of what could otherwise be awesome.

    I didn’t pay $300 for this beast to have pirates turn it into a fancy paperweight.

    Reply

    1. ghadz’s avatar

      Yeah you have a good point there mate! Hope it would not go down in the same path as the psp did..

      Reply

    2. ???’s avatar

      You can play pirated games on PS2 since its launch, the real reason why a console become useless is the lack of games and first party support not piracy alone!!

      Reply

      1. jeremymd’s avatar

        actually the “lack of games” is because of long-run piracy. game devs won’t make as much profit if their game can be played for free on a specific console, so they stop supporting it.

        then again, i think this is just greed. if you make 10 chairs and just give it away to 10 people, you lost in all aspects. but what if you can give and give people chairs and never run out because all you do is copy the chair with a gesture and there you go?

        greed.

        that doesn’t mean we aren’t at fault at all with our unstated motives. for me, it’s fight fire with fire.

        Reply

    3. ghadz’s avatar

      True! Thats why sony updates to minimize potential hacks and encourage game developers

      Reply

      1. LOLZ’s avatar

        Too bad for Game Devs. So many hax going on. Scared them a lot.

        Reply

        1. AK-47’s avatar

          It’s the risk for their line of business

          Reply

  20. 2die4’s avatar

    the it cant be shared because of copyright is always bs

    Reply

    1. matt’s avatar

      You’re only saying this because you don’t have anything to share that you’re likely to get sued by some large corporation for.

      I agree that it SHOULD be able to be shared, and I’d attempt to share it if I were him. But the amount of secrecy you’d need to use to be 100% certain that they wouldn’t track it all back to you would be ridiculous, and even then you’d be taking a big chance. After having revealed to anyone that he had dumped this information, his internet connection alone is probably enough to track him down if Sony attempted to prosecute him for releasing it, so I doubt he’d want to take that risk.

      Reply

  21. CrystalMusic07’s avatar

    Great things to happen on our vita :)

    Reply

  22. GottZ’s avatar

    *hoping it is a jtag port*

    Reply

  23. Xinefury’s avatar

    Assassins creed 3 liberation = us updating ps vita.

    Reply

  24. Aero’s avatar

    Yifan’s PSM exploit seems like the most viable way into the system for now. It’s probably a method to access more of the Vita’s juice than the SDK gives devs access to and nothing more. Maybe, just maybe, a way to run apps developed with Yifan’s PSM toolchain straight from the Vita, without having to submit it to Sony.

    If Yifan’s exploit is what I’ve described, then I don’t see how it by itself would stop someone from developing a Vita game loader. I don’t want that at all, and neither does Yifan, so I’d imagine that he’s creating a whole toolchain that blocks off access to Vita game loading.

    All I want is an excuse for drk||raziel to port NullDC to the Vita. You know that man will if the means to are given to him. Then I will happily purchase a Vita!

    Reply

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