For those of you who don’t know developer Hykem, he’s been a massive contributor to the console hacking scene. He’s worked on the security of the PS Vita, the PSP, the PS3, the PS4, and more recently the Wii U. He was recently at the center of some scene drama related to the release of an IOSU exploit, earlier this year. Then, he disappeared.
Hykem contacted me today with a farewell message for the scene. I did best diligence to confirm this message is legit, and to the best of my knowledge, it is. Of course, one can never be 100% sure, but I’ll let you judge.
Many hackers move on in life as they lose interest in hacking, but few of them ever officially say goodbye, and under such circumstances.
I want to personally thank Hykem for what he’s done for the scene. I know that some harsh things have been said on him and some of his recent behavior on the Wii U scene, but remembering only the past few months would be too easy, and extremely unfair to him and his work. Hykem has been a developer on the console security scene for almost as long as this site’s been up. There’s no doubt his contributions to console hacking have had a strong impact, and still will for many years.
He’s apparently been badly struck with legal and personal issues because of his natural curiosity for computers, a problem that I hope all people reading this blog can easily relate to. His message below:
I’m writing this letter as an attempt to achieve peace, both with others and myself.
You may or may not know me as Hykem and you’re probably wondering why you’re reading this here.
I asked Wololo if it would be possible to publish this for very solid reasons. I no longer have means to communicate and my alias has been used and associated with a few fake accounts, so, what better way to send a message than resort to one of the most influential and respected console hacking websites out there? Especially one that played such massive role in my life. I must apologize to playstationhax.it and Greg, which were equally influential in my life, but it was easier and safer to verify I am indeed me through Wololo.
Anyway, I would like to start off by apologizing to everyone who stood by my side and helped me throughout my ventures in the “hacking” world. I was still a kid when my interest in reverse-engineering sparkled. In 2008 I began beta-testing and coding for JPCSP, a PlayStation Portable emulator written in Java. I met really great people there and had a great time learning and, essentially, creating. My love for cryptography began exactly there, by reversing and implementing a crypto engine based on the PSP’s security model. I felt at home in our small community at emunewz.net and I feel it helped me grow as a person and as a programmer.
Later, I moved to similar ventures on the PS3 console and my interest in reverse-engineering closed source devices kept growing. I was very proud to co-author the first PS3 emulator, RPCS3 with the amazing DH. The project, despite its flaws, generated a massive community and a lot of really talented developers joined the cause. Again, I spent hours and hours building a cryptographic engine to emulate the PS3’s security model. I had a blast and I still can’t describe the feeling I had when we began seeing the results of our labour. During that time, I also developed a few tools I was really proud of and helped establish my name as a serious programmer.
I watched as embedded devices’ security kept improving over time and I like to think videogame console hackers played an important role there. During all this time I never stopped learning and finding ways to become the best. Of course, I never even got close. There are plenty of incredibly talented hackers and developers out there. Still, I never stopped having fun. I never cared for morals and ethics since my intentions were always pure.
I’ve always been too curious and nothing makes me feel better than unveiling the multiple layers of a system and stare right at its core. I knew the world of hacking could be dangerous and that there’s a very fine line between legal and illegal. However, I always believed that people were reasonable and if a kid broke into a system or exploited a console out of pure curiosity it wouldn’t be seen as a harmful act. I was terribly wrong. I fail to understand the concept of a law that actively shortens our ability to learn and explore and I truly wish this will change in the future as there are amazing organizations fighting for these rights.
I can’t really explain why I felt drawn into console hacking. It’s such a specific subset, why not something else? I grew up with videogames and always imagined what would be like to develop a game or take part in the process of building a videogame console. Ridiculous as it is, there was a time when videogame consoles were my only friends. Also, the fact that these embedded devices became increasingly complex and secured greatly fed my curiosity. I’m a big homebrew fan and I truly believe we as users and consumers should have the right to take full advantage of the systems we are purchasing. But, on the other hand, I also understand a company’s need to protect its creations. I just wish there was a way to “meet in the middle” so students and talented people could have the freedom to explore their devices without putting a company at risk.
My recent ventures involved recent consoles with very interesting security models. I talk of course about the PlayStation Vita, the PS4 and the Wii U. Obviously, the Wii U is why I’m writing all this. Many people are still angry, frustrated or disappointed at me for events I cannot take back and for that I apologize. I apologize to everyone who stood by my side waiting for my work.
I was really excited that after 2 years of working alongside so many talented developers trying to crack down the Wii U’s security model we were finally looking at its “guts”. It was a roller coaster of emotions as we kept breaking the several layers of this system and began learning a lot about it. Our intentions were, from the get go, to open the console to everyone and watch a new homebrew scene flourish as many did before with consoles like the Wii or the 3DS. While we achieved some success, the last layer of security was still in the way to provide a powerful platform for homebrew. While I was working on breaking this, another group completely smashed the console’s security, which made me jump the gun and tell everyone about my plans. Big mistake.
What followed that was a big, big mess…
I’m not allowed, nor do I want to discuss what happened. After I disappeared rumours popped up and people kept trying to either clean or trash my name. This is harmless right? I mean, it’s the internet, people say what they want, when they want for whatever reason. Unfortunately, it has been everything but harmless for me.
The whole mess that followed my disappearance literally sent my life down the drain. I’ve lost two jobs, faced serious legal problems and even became at risk of losing my place in my university. People evoking the name “Hykem” for any reason is generating a lot of confusion around me and I wish to put an end to that.
People may think I am some kind of monster, but I’m nothing but a curious guy taking a master’s degree in Computer Science with a strong interest in cryptography and security models. I was inexcusably naive thinking I could just do whatever I wanted with my life. It doesn’t work like that.
So, with this letter I present my permanent retirement from the “scene” and even from the whole world of security and hacking. I no longer have plans to pursue a career in cybersecurity as I’ve always wished and I barely have any relationship with computers at all these days. My email accounts have all been deactivated, my code repositories have been deleted and I kept no backups of them and any other accounts I may had (forums, websites) will no longer be accessed. I won’t ask for the deletion of those accounts simply to spare the administrators of the headache that is removing an account from the system, but, if they wish to do so, go ahead. I take no responsibility for people who may try to re-upload or build upon my projects. If you happen to still have my repositories’ code, feel free to do whatever you want with it.
I no longer possess anything even remotely related to hacking, no exploits, no code, no research, nothing. Not even backups. From this day on, there won’t be any way to contact me and any account or identity created after today using my alias DOES NOT BELONG TO ME. After I deleted my Twitter handle and the grace period expired someone decided to register it back. This account is not associated in any way with me. It belongs to Peter Miller (a.k.a. Ichii Giki, Peter Mary and petermary17) and I have no idea why he is pretending to be me.
Without further ado, I say forever goodbye and leave a big “thank you for everything” to the following people (in no particular order): AlexAltea George Moralis (shadow) gid15 hlide DH BlackDaemon zecoxao naehrwert flat_z GregoryRasputin Proxima Yifan Lu xyz mr.gas Major_Tom TheFloW 173210 xerpi George Klees (Marionumber1) Syler Clayton (Relys) Mathew_Wi cyberdemon comex reprep SMOKE587 Mr. Netrix BBalling1 Hackinformer Wololo Mathieulh