A new firmware, but always the same questions*. Multiple people made the mistake of upgrading their PS Vita and are wondering about the future possibility to exploit PS Vita firmware with HENkaku 3.65. The majority of the audience of this blog has been enjoying HENkaku on firmware 3.60, but a growing number of users are now stuck on firmwares 3.61, 3.63 or 3.65. So I expect the questions related to a PS Vita 3.65 downgrader, or a PS Vita 3.65 jailbreak, HENkaku 3.65, or a PS Vita hack for higher firmwares to increase with time.
TL,DR: The best way to get a hacked PS Vita is to get yourself a PS vita running firmware 3.60. The Borderlands bundle is the safest bet (ensure you buy it new, not used).
Is there, or will there be a PS Vita 3.65 Vita Jailbreak (HENkaku 3.65)?
The long answer is more nuanced, but still ends with a “no”. There was no native hack release for 3.61 or 3.63, and the same still hold true for 3.65. Think about it, it took about 5 years for the first “real” Vita hack to surface. And hopefully, the various explanations that have been posted by Team Molecule and others about the hack have proven that it was not a small achievement. HENkaku required several hacks and tricks to work. HENkaku 3.65 would require the same amount of work.
With Firmwares 3.61 and 3.63 Sony have patched not only the Webkit exploit, but also other vulnerabilities that were leveraged by HENkaku. Team molecule member xyz explains it on his blog, here.
Basically, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that a similar scope of work (as what happened for HENkaku) would be required for a new Vita HENkaku 3.65 exploit to be released on newer firmwares (3.61 and 3.63 included). In other words, years.
With that being said, hackers now have access to more information about the Vita than Team molecule had. It is not a black box anymore, and with access to the system, I assume some groups are hard at work reverse-engineering the Firmware to find more vulnerabilities. But this is not the PSP days anymore, where the system had very limited protection. Here again, Yifan Lu and Xyz have made a point of showing how complex it is to fool the Vita securities.
However, hackers Hexkyz and St4rk have both claimed they have found Kernel exploits in the PS Vita. None of them has released anything though, although it’s pretty certain they did have to have access to such exploits in order to break the Henkaku Challenge.
Team molecule themselves seem to have more access to the Vita latest firmwares, as they were able to snatch the PSN passphrase of firmware 3.63 in order to reinstate PSN access for HENKaku users on 3.60. This is also probably how xyz was able to reverse engineer the patch from 3.63 as explained above.
How about a PS Vita 3.65 downgrader then?
A downgrader would basically imply that Sony’s private keys are leaked or that their security is completely taken down. According to everyone I’ve asked, this scenario is highly unlikely.
Alternatively, it would mean a Kernel exploit with the ability to patch the system in Ram, which wouldn’t really be a downgrade anymore, just another kernel exploit for Firmware 3.65. So a downgrader is probably even more unlikely to happen than a 3.65 Jailbreak.
People have contacted me, offering to donate money to fund a “bounty” for a PS Vita 3.65 downgrader or exploit. I’d like to remind everyone that we have attempted this in the past, with a total bounty of about $2000. This gave us Rejuvenate, from the very same person who gave us HENkaku, Yifanlu. Nobody else ever even tried to suggest something else: Rejuvenate was literally the only entry for that bounty, despite it running for months.
So I don’t think money is the issue here, unless, as I’ve told to the people who have suggested it, unless you have somewhere between $10’000 and $50’000 to give away. That kind of money might motivate the people with the right skills who weren’t thinking of doing it for free in the first place.
However, it’s been confirmed that hardware “downgrading” is possible by swapping your PS Vita’s 3.6x motherboard with a PS Vita 3.60 motherboard (this worked at least on firmware 3.61). These can be bought for about $40 on Aliexpress, however there is significant risk of permanently damaging your PS Vita if you attempt such a hardware replacement yourself. My advice is to chip in a bit more money and get yourself a full fledged 3.60 Vita, but see below for details.
What hacking options exist for Users on Vita 3.65?
The only software based option at this point on Vita firmware 3.65 is VHBL (pictured above), a homebrew loader running in the ePSP emulator of the PS Vita.
Bottom line, a 3.65 Vita native hack, or HENkaku 3.65 is unlikely to happen in the months to come, and for now your best option is VHBL. So, if you have $100 to donate for the scene, instead get yourself a PS Vita running firmware 3.60.
* Note: regular readers will notice that this article is a lame copy/paste of a similar article we already published for 3.63 and 3.61, with minor changes. Frankly, the reality is that this thing that is very obvious to some of you, is not necessarily for everyone. In an attempt to prevent people from getting scammed by some low-life sites, we republish this when a new firmware comes out. Please share with your friends who don’t follow the scene as closely as you do