Sony Can Access Your Device Even When You Aren’t Signed In To PSN. Is It Legal?

The Jay Doctor

I'm a guy who is really interested in hacking of all consoles, especially the PlayStation Vita. I am a blogger here on wololo.net

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99 Responses

  1. Deathscreton says:

    It could also be that if the Vita uses the DB on the memory card to store information abiut every app on the Vita, then Sony could just be pushing updates to each Vita that has been connected to the PSN store at some point in time to ensure that the catalog stays updated. This wod relieve stress on their own servers by having a portion of the catalogue place on individual Vitas. Doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re being spied or that Sony is collecting information about you.

    • The Jay Doctor says:

      That’s a good point you have there

      • lolwut says:

        it is legal. read the eula, “3. SERVICES AND UPDATES; THIRD PARTY AGREEMENTS AND CONTENT”

        http://www.scei.co.jp/psvita-eula/psvita_eula_engb.html

        • Aces says:

          EULA’s Do not override the law.
          If sony had a bit saying, “You agree to supply your first born child for undisclosable reasons”.
          Would you still say its legal and point out that part of the EULA?

        • wulolu says:

          not only becouse its in on the eula, manual o contract it means that is legal ¬¬

      • Dutt says:

        I think you are completely wrong about this..
        The live area for the PlayStation Store is a part of the PS Vita’s FW as is the Store itself..
        The live area is Automatically updated as its meant to with the latest Apps and Games or even older ones just to display on the live area of that particular live area its for…
        It is not updating anything that you own.. We (PS Vita users) apparently do not own the Vita’s Firmware..
        This is the same as the PS3 as it does do the same thing with the icons when you have the Store icon highlighted..

        Please correct me if im wrong..

        • Gizmo says:

          I think that too. the PS Vita FW is looking for the update, it knows you have an account you’re just not signed in.

          so Sony is not actively in your PSVita doing something to make it happen.

          • Frank says:

            Yes you’re wrong. The Vita itself checks on the outside to update all the little circles of all your apps if your system is connected to wifi (like mine is connected to wifi even in sleep mode) and it does this even if you don’t have a PSN account cnfigured. It’s in the firmware to do this periodically.

    • lolwut says:

      exactly. btw if they want to spy you, they could add extra library on every game and send secret data at the same time the said game sending data.

    • gunblade says:

      The psn app jus refresh…

    • SSJ-Vita says:

      That’s a really good way of putting it that does make sense, but do you think on planet spying cronyism…that that’s any kind of an accident lol? With all due respect, snowden leaks etc. prove entirely otherwise, that they are so spying it’s insane!

  2. wololo says:

    This echoes the concerns I had 2 years ago when I called Sony’s customer service regarding their “content Manager Assistant” needing to be constantly connected to their servers even when I was copying personal files (photos, music…) from and to my Vita.

    At the time they “assured me no personal data was collected”…

    http://wololo.net/2011/12/29/ps-vita-content-manager-and-security-concerns/

    • The Jay Doctor says:

      Ikr. Shoutout to Virtous Flame

    • SSJ-Vita says:

      Your personal data is so being collected lol. It’s not even a question there’s 0 doubt. I know the gaming outlets are supposed to be looked down on because they keep people distracted from reality and whatnot…pish posh…pokemon on psp was the shiznit!!! And with articles like this, it proves the integrity of this outlet that I swear I check…EVERY…DAY LOL.

    • SSJ-Vita says:

      And actually ya know….most mornings I check here before I even check infowars….I swear… someone hack me and see if I’m telling the truth lol. So yeah I really do like this place and thanks for being here all of you guys, doing what you guys do. Your good people.

  3. rjwboys says:

    its more like the vita is pulling from an update page on its own, as it does turn on and checks

  4. ils says:

    Maybe it’s only the “ads” on the PS Store start screen?
    The one with the images of what’s new/hot right now

  5. fex says:

    I do think that the psvita does not disconnect when standby, maybe the psn goes into a not available mode, but still connected.

  6. Poo weasle says:

    Jam_Hank was not blurred very good

  7. jake says:

    I’m pretty sure when you buy a vita you’re not actually buying the vita – you’re just buying permission to use it while ownership stays with sony or some other Business BS they pull out. So it is legal… but to me it ain’t moral

    • fate6 says:

      You own the hardware but the software is theirs

      • drd7of14 says:

        Yeah, and that goes with all software including OS, apps, programs or whatever. You are only purchasing the license to use it. And buying a disk is merely a method of distribution for that software. You pay for the license.

        • jake says:

          (soz forgot about mentioning hardware is yours haha that would be even worse) I meant the vita bios and stuffffz.

          So would this make vita emulation (or any nextgen console emulation) illegal since the bios you’re using on emulators are never yours? whoa… then again.. who cares.. if you don’t let us buy it (or falsely promise it), then we’ll find a way around it, regardless of whatever consequences sony or any other big guy will try to throw at us.

  8. michael says:

    I think vita send information to sony for update contents.
    nowadays many application stores(steam, apple App Store, google playstore) doing that process.
    PSN is another application store. so it find updates from network, and refresh there information even you don’t sign in.
    I think if you sign in, then PSN will store data in your db, and if you sign out, then it will stored as templory guest. because, store every signed out device takes huge storage.

  9. Someone says:

    This assertion is silly/stupid. Software can poll for updates without having to be logged in to anything. Sony is not “accessing” your device any more than Microsoft “accesses” your computer when your operating system performs nightly or weekly system updates. There’s a difference between polling/phone home mechanisms and what you allege.

    Of course if you cannot tolerate that, the fix is simple: don’t connect your vita (ps3, ps4, computer, etc etc) to the internet.

  10. Zik says:

    O_o surely you read your ToA? it DID explicitly stated something in regard to that. I’m certain it did.

    unless most of you just simply kept clicking on agree without reading it…

    to use PSN, you’re required not to modify the OS or the devices. doing so violate the agreement.

    • The Jay Doctor says:

      I Yes, it is legal. But is it right? The issue isn’t the updates, that is legal, but the fact that they have that kind of access.

  11. Admiralvic says:

    Pretty sure this is just part of the “Automatic Updates”, which you can simply disable if you so please.

    http://manuals.playstation.net/document/en/psvita/settings/autoupdate.html

  12. meanmachine781 says:

    Im guessing its just like an email app that pushes notifications as it gets it, i also have turned on my vita and seen messages from friends in psn even if not signed in.

    • drd7of14 says:

      That’s because you have it set in to auto-update, in which it signs into PSN and then updates via notifications or depending on your settings, patches and pushed downloads and such. That is an automatic feature via PLUS, and some non-Plus, but still built in, features. This isn’t news. It’s just ignorance.

  13. HarmfulMushroom says:

    Now that you bring this up this has happened to me as well. Didn’t register at first for some reason, I’m not signed into PSN all that often either.

  14. Death of Chaos says:

    From what I gather, there’s no personal information gathered from this ‘spyware’, it’s just sending new data to a specified location, end of story. I don’t think a PSN account is even really needed to put this into effect. If you’re paranoid over that, then you’d e pretty much doomed if you knew some of the crazy stuff your computer picks up, lol.

  15. PlaGeRaN says:

    Unless you have auto update ticked, you are on the wrong train. It was mentioned that the latest software has that option pre-ticked. Also it’s not impossible to have a database of mac addresses with psn id’s. This can be done every time you sign in on a device automatically.

  16. neotechni says:

    You have it backwards. They aren’t accessing your device, your device is accessing theirs. Just like how you can update PS3 games without being signed into PSN.

    And we’ve known PSN devices can upload date to Sony for years, right down to what games you play (which hackers found unnerving cause it told Sony) and what TV you use.

  17. Nazar_Ops says:

    This is probably why people prefer PC gaming. Because there’s no one that is monitoring your PC. It is an open platform.

  18. m0rb1t says:

    They mine all the data they can.. Proccesed with algorithms… and then they know what the can sell us next …. if you don’t want to speculate any more about what they can monitor and what they can’t think about this…
    Probably yes! I think it would be very possible that even most PC motherboards have a back door installed… reverse the PC beep speaker on there to function as a microphone… voila every poor human soul on the planet is monitored.. sick ***… enjoy while it lasts…

  19. Acid_Snake says:

    Imo, the title is hugely misleading. The article ended up being more speculation than fact, while the title makes it seem like pure fact.

  20. lox says:

    this post has no sense!!!!
    what are you talking about!

    the psvita knows that you have a psn account so it checks for updates if the wifi is on.
    sony does not need to access your device to update the store or something else manually.

    even if you are signed off, the psvita knows that you have a psn account and your fw is up to date, so it updates the live area automatically

    these are common checks that EVERY device does when an internet connection is found and your device has the permissions to download the updated stuff, nothing more….

  21. fate6 says:

    Or you now maybe you forgot to disable liva area refresh from the settings app

    And BTW the Vita simply checks for any updates intervals

  22. SoylPleumx says:

    *** you Sony

  23. mixedfish says:

    Hold your horses, if you look to much into something you’re going down the line of a confirmation bias.

    The live area in the PS store is basically one big ad banner, no different to PS3’s ‘what’s new’ section. It doesn’t need PSN to update, just a internet connection which you clearly have.

  24. McLoven says:

    its a conspiracy

  25. asfggggg says:

    I would think someone who has as thick a tinfoil hat as you, would properly blur out your psn name from the screenshot…

  26. Sky Yuki says:

    “The LiveArea screen has been refreshed” one for Video
    Video……
    VIDEO…………
    OH NO THEY”RE WATCHING MY P- i mean HENTAI WHEN I”M SLEEPING

  27. yes says:

    Do you have this setting on?

    Settings > System > Auto-Start Settings > “Refresh LiveArea Screen”

  28. Bobby says:

    “Another, and much more likely possibility is has a database of the IPs of all of the Vita’s out there with a PSN account, and they just send out updates to those ones.”
    IPs don’t work like that. Not only is it not a “much more likely possibility”, it’s ridiculous. IPs aren’t static, they change. Often, if you turn off wifi on your vita and back on, you’ll have a different IP than you did. If you go to someone else’s house and use wifi there, you’ll have a different IP. While they might be able to push things like that to your vita, they don’t have a “database of IPs.” Having a database of IP addresses is largely useless. It does have its uses, but this is not one of them.

    What I think is that your device just went and got the updates. You don’t need to be logged in to do that. If there’s something outdated, it will refresh itself. It doesn’t check with PSN, it just goes and gets the new content.
    When I say this, keep in mind that I’ve never used a Vita before and it’s all speculation. The last half of it, anyway.

  29. The Jay Doctor says:

    Sorry guys for the stupid irrelevant posting of mine. I promise to bring you something useful, very soon. (btw, who said jam_hank was me?)

    • ViRGE says:

      It’s okay. As long as you learned something from it.

      Being a responsible publisher means getting all the facts before making an assertion.

    • Nelem Naru says:

      You said it in the photo’s caption o_O
      “I was not signed in.”

    • Acid_Snake says:

      I don’t have much of a problem with the article itself, but with the way it was presented. Had you presented it (specially in the title) as pure speculation rather than laying it out as fact, it would have opened a great topic for discussion (which has already been into every Vita’s owner’s head for a while).
      The way you presented it was like “this is the truth people”, which caused negative reaction, much different that if it were “is this the truth people?”, which would have allowed users to dump their brain.

  30. Vitality says:

    I would be more surprise indeed if my Vita does not even connected to the internet or in Flight Mode, the contents from LiveArea actually are automatically updated.

  31. DS_Marine says:

    Well i’ts more like backwards, your device access sony’s servers. There’s no way they can initiate a connection to it without properly forwarded ports at the wifi AP/router. Still, they could do whatever they want everytime the vita contacts them.
    It’s like windows update, and while there is a way to turn it off it is legal I think.

  32. capcomlegend says:

    and this is why I always have airplane mode always on …

  33. Jay is dumb says:

    I’m pretty sure this is covered in the Elua you agreed to.

  34. This article is kinda useless and unpostworthyful imo

  35. nsa surveillance says:

    even when you are not connected to internet

  36. benemy says:

    This happened to me as well. Weird thing is I had both wifi and my 3g turned off. My vita was powered off all night. I woke up, read this, then turned it on to find the same message.

  37. benemy says:

    Shot I guess my 3g was on. I could have sworn I turned it off but after a 5th of EnJ I don’t remember much.

  38. alpmaster says:

    It is easy for you to disable that refresh live area just go into system settings and disable automatic update for firmware and the refresh live area among other things.

  39. dragng8 says:

    Sony is planning on eating your babies

  40. dragng8 says:

    This article is worthy! Sony is announcing a black/white thermal color changing vita! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ‎

  41. codestation says:

    I feel that this article is overreacting over LiveArea updates. The updates for the Store and Videos screens are updated regularly to show new stuff and i fail to see why the login status is relevant for that stuff appearing on these screens.

  42. Yifan Lu says:

    I’m sorry, but this is stupid. App updates are not a violation of privacy and if you’re that paranoid, just disable wifi. There is no evidence that any personal data is sent TO Sony only that they’ve downloaded some xml data from their server to show you ads for new games on livearea.

  43. RandQalan says:

    Come on we know it pushes stuff to S
    and if you have a cell phone most if not all now days do the same thing 😆

    Now in most cases that is nothing but if you do something they really do not like they probably have flags to detect illegal activity like CFW and on cells phones like free service

    When you can be tracked now days with most devices not all that unusual really out of any company

  44. Wow says:

    Okay, you seem more than a little paranoid. I think that the Vita just reads the PSN rather than have updates pushed to it, thus not requiring you to be signed in.

  45. AsDraS says:

    I don’t think that it’s sony who is connecting.. i think it’s your vita on its own to download the newest offers available in the store

  46. OR says:

    I’m more concerned with governments spying on their people than Sony.

  47. Steph says:

    Wololo i believe i pointed this out to you quite a while ago when i said i’d leave my vita charging, in aeroplane mode and would often come back to it in the morning to find that the livearea had been refreshed, with updated pictures etc etc. For it to have gotten them, it would have had to have connected to wifi and requested it.

    you all should be concerned by this – it means that sony can kill your accounts should they not like you even tho you are not connected, and in aeroplane mode. Because even tho you have wifi disabled, the device will ignore it, connect to wifi and talk to sony regardless.

    • bob says:

      As the saying goes, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

      The simple solution to LiveArea updates being retrieved even in airplane mode would be to delete all wifi settings / power off your wireless access point while the Vita is not in use. Practical? No, but no connection to make = no way for Sony to access your device.

      I agree that such concerns shouldn’t be necessary – if airplane mode is enabled, that should disable *all* wireless activity – but as yet, Sony doesn’t want it to be that way. Fortunately, it’s minimally invasive at best.

    • Mark says:

      Please get facts straight before posting them.

      Liveareas are not limited to online refreshes.

      This article is disappointing.

    • crimsonraven009 says:

      You do realises the original Xbox people got there accounts “killed” Any company can kill your account when they want, that’s what we call banned accounts, yes a company would be all like ooh we don’t like this guy for no reason ban him >·>

      It’s a feature in the device it’s self, like the ps3 n ps4, get over it people stop being so paranoid on every little thing

    • yes says:

      I think its possible that you didnt have the Vita in airplane-mode or it was a bug. I tried to put my Vita in airplane-mode last night, and nothing refreshed during the night. There is a small bug regarding this on the Vita i noticed. If you put it in airplane-mode, everything seems to work fine, but if you enable WiFi again, then it says that airplane-mode is still on, but thats not the case. This bug appears if you hold the PS-button down on the Vita and do the changes through that menu. I’m not sure if this bug appears if you do the changes through the Settings app instead.

  48. solidsnake says:

    This happened to me too but I never actually thought about it like this.
    This is why I always stick to using logic. If my wifi is turned off then I am safe.
    If it is turned on then I am not safe. This is all you can really do about anything. When you go outside, there are cameras everywhere watching everybody. Invest in an L.E.D. hat. Always go out at night. Never stay in the same location. Just keep moving, they are everywhere 😉

  49. SSJ-Vita says:

    I think the vita needs to be a trillion percent hacked, or a trillion percent abandoned, and bring on the next dual joystick toushscreen. I don’t think in light of this…that it can ever be slightly both, either all the way at this point…or fu&% off sony. When I bought my vita it was for infowar/ gaming purposes, this tells me that my ability to infowar on it can be compromised, I’m not okay with that. Liked this article and shared on fakebook. Keep up the good work you guys ,,,and thanks for making my handhelds super awesome retro devices : ) – INFOWeARechange/onymouS

  50. NakedFaerie says:

    You got it wrong.
    Its NOT your PSN account thats doing anything its your console itself.
    As you said its online overnight the console knows what version of each of your apps are. periodically it looks online to see if the same verison is there too, if there is an update then it updates.

    The PS3 has an option to turn on, check for updates and download updates then turn off again. The Vita also does but its for PS+ users but it still checks for Live Screen updates I think when its charging and asleep. Like standby mode, on charge after 30 mins of that or something similar.

    So it doesn’t matter if your signed on or not, your console checks itself if its online then checks the version numbers to see if anything is updated.
    BUT I think only PS+ users will get the full potential of this as it can check for game updates and update them automatically. All a normal user gets is the live screen updates. You have to check game updates manually.

    • gta_master says:

      Sir, you have truly read my thoughts exactly. That is why I think this article was a complete waste. Just turn off the automatic check for updates to the applications. When the “LiveArea Screen” is refreshed, it doesn’t sign in to your PSN account , it just “access’s” your ps vita, if you will, and checks what applications need updating.

  51. dalton says:

    Yeah this happens with my ps3 and trophies!

    It posted on my facebook that I got a trophie on Lightning Returns when I was work!
    My girlfriend freaked out lol I had to send her snap chats to convince her i was actually at work.

    But isn’t auto update as part of PS+ have them accessing your device when you’re signed out? When you’re PS3 is in stand by, you’re signed out, right?

  52. ivo says:

    automatic system user logon + automatic update = ps plus update service

  53. Ninjakakashi says:

    I’m sorry but this for me is a dumb article, because you didn’t research anything and 2nd reason if you have some dirt that is worth finding for security reasons then I don’t give a f*ck!!!

  54. GottZ says:

    doesn’t this belong into something like a forum? srsly.. try to use wireshark to see what is happening. you will notice that your psvita will request data over time no matter if you are signed in or not.

  55. You says:

    Internet only into your laptop at home via cable. I read some place the company sends a type of verification checker pulses whenever to make sure your setup is ok. God help if your add-on splitter is sending back unusual signals. TV also…? theft of services? Electo funk age.

  56. jake says:

    @Jay Doctor blur your image out a bit more with your ID name…

  57. Voltromik says:

    This post is dumb,, its the OS refreshing. They aren’t seeking thru your system? Cmon now,, its not worth it/.

  58. X says:

    Go get something with a real webcam PSN and twitch has to watch you in low rez at the moment.

  59. Patrick-The-Muthurfuckur-Star says:

    Time on screenshot is 3:33pm! Half-Life 3 confirmed!

  60. Pooptart says:

    jam_hark.

  61. Anon says:

    You’re still over thinking it.

    That particular screen update doesn’t mean you have app updates, or any alterations, it means that Sony has released new games to the store.

    You’re wiggling out because sony has put up a billboard on their store which your console is viewing.

    Sorry, but the sad truth, big brother isn’t watching you, big brother doesn’t even know, or care, who you are.

  62. me says:

    It isn’t that Sony have accessed your device in anyway, its the device phoning home looking for any updated information, and pulling it locally. You only have to have the device connected to the internet for this to happen as its only an xml sheet that’s being checked on a remote server which anyone with the right information could access and then any changes are being saved by your device.

    The PS3 exhibits this exact same behaviour with its XMB icons, you don’t have to be signed in for these changes to be made, as its the device itself that initiates the connection.

    Btw, you can stop this behaviour from happening, by disabling the automatic live area refresh in the system settings, meaning you remain in control of the devices connections at all times, and that there is absolutely no foul play on Sony’s part.

    However, there is likely hidden information (IE: A list of most recent gaming activity), being sent behind the scenes without any kind of notification going on, that you should be more concerned with, but this behaviour is covered by the EULA you agreed to in the PSN terms of service. The clause that covers data collection and its usage outlines this type of behaviour. And unless you’ve never signed into the PSN that is the only circumstance Sony aren’t allowed to collect this information, which is why its also mentioned in the system software updates you install after purchase, this way Sony has covered itself in any circumstance.

    Sony have no rights however to collect this information on a stock freshly purchased device that has never accepted a software update after being purchased or been connected by the current owner to the PSN. This would only stand up in court because at the point of sale you are not informed of the terms of the EULA, so don’t have an informed choice on wether you agree to the terms and conditions of usage rights attached to the purchase of the hardware or the system software contained within.

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