Not so many people might still be interested in hacking the almost-20-year old console, but this kind of release is always interesting, at least from the technical aspect. It’s also compatible with Slim consoles, which is not the case* of the popular FreeMcboot exploit.
The released exploit leverages Yabasic, a BASIC interpreter that ship with the PS2 on Demo discs, some of which were directly released with new consoles in the PAL region. If you own a PS2 that you bought new in Europe, it is likely you have one of those Demo discs, and that you can run Yabasic. And therefore, run the exploit.
How the Yabasic exploit works
The Yabasic exploit relies on some vulnerabilities in the Yabasic interpreter. CTurt has written a tool that lets one convert a payload into a matching Yabasic piece of code that you load through Yabasic. Pretty straightforward. The Yabasic vulnerabilities involved are “old school” buffer/integer overflows that Cturt describes in a detailed writeup. It’s reasonably easy to understand since the PS2 did not have all of the modern security mechanisms that exist on modern consoles.
Pros and Cons of the Yabasic exploit
The hacker outlines the benefits of his exploit as follows: it runs on all consoles, including the latest Slim models. It can therefore either be used as an entry point for the FreeMcBoot loader, or as the starting point for other developments to hack Slim consoles. (FreeMcBoot is not working* on recent slim consoles, and needs an entry point to be initially installed on a memory card)
On the cons of this hack is the fact that Yabasic was only ever released on PAL consoles, meaning if you’re on NTSC you’re probably out of luck for now.
Where to find the Demos Discs with Yabasic
The Demo discs with Yabasic can easily be found on Ebay for about $10. Again, these are for PAL consoles
Download Yabasic exploit and tools
Keep in mind that the current release is just a series of tools for the PS2 hacking community. Hackers and developers will want to turn them into full-fledged user friendly exploits (either to load FreeMcBoot or something else). With this in mind, you can download CTurt’s Yabasic exploit here:
* update: Multiple people have reported that FreeMcBoot is compatible with some Slim consoles, and that only some of the most recent hardware revisions are not compatible with the tool. Apologies for the imprecision in the article here.