Many of us would love a native hack to see the light of day on the Vita, and even though apparently this is not happening anytime soon, it apparently doesn’t stop people from trying. Which is good: hacks don’t fall from the sky, and if people always relied on the “old school” hackers to get things done, nothing would ever really happen.
So it’s great to take matters in your own hands, but there are good ways and bad ways to “try” to hack a console. I’ve said many times that without a debugger, most of us probably won’t get anything remotely useful, but even without going that far, a bit of common sense is required if you plan to be even a tiny bit useful for the hacking community:
Several people contact me regularly about “glitches” in games they play on the Vita. I’ve heard things such as “there’s a delay between the image and the sound of this game” or “every time my character enters that room, the game crashes, is this an exploit?” (those are real messages I’ve received!).
I typically reply (and apparently this answer needs to be more publicly visible because I’m getting lots of these PMs, hence this article) the following: In order to even think you can have an exploit, you need some sort of control. If you want to take control of the device, you need a way to send “orders” to it.
And that means you need some form of reliable and predictable input. For example, a savegame for which you have ways to control the content. Or a physical device capable of sending commands to the CPU (potentially through a hardware or software hack, such as the ps3 dongles). Or a crafted image, movie, or music file. And (don’t laugh, I’ve had this question as well) no, being able to control your character on the screen is probably not a valid way of “controlling the input” (I mean, theoretically, maybe it would be possible, but let’s be serious…)
Hopefully, most people reading this article now are laughing at how obvious this is, but if that is still lost on you, just remember: if you don’t control the crash and what happens after it, you don’t have an exploit, you just have a bug. So don’t contact me about it, ’cause I will not have any good answer to give you. It’s nice that you try and help, but please come back when you have more bases on how exploits work. Here’s a starting point.