QA Flag Utility gamecard and QAF Tokens found in PS Vita devkit
Sony have sent their Vita QA units for destruction this year. Vita hackers, including DoublesAdvocate
SKGleba, managed to snatch a few of them in the process, and found interesting things.
As you may or may not know, it was discovered recently that Sony are getting rid of (understand: destroy) their Vita Devkits and QA units. This is taken by the scene as a confirmation that the PS Vita is definitely dead, and in particular that it won’t receive any future Firmware updates, as “they won’t have any units left to do firmware QA” (source).
It’s of course possible that PlayStation are keeping a few units ready for the occasional security update, but the hacking community is certainly seeing some units move on the secondary market. Although we’re not completely sure how units that are destined to be destroyed end up for sale, this is for the benefit of the scene, as there are certainly interesting things to be learned from Vita Devkit.
The one snatched by DoublesAdvocate
SKGleba in particular was more than just a single devkit, as it included a QA utility gamecard, some official internal tool designed for testers. According to the hacker, the utility contained the QAF utility app (a barebones QA application for the Vita that lets one set multiple QA flags on the device) as well as signed QAF Tokens.
“Fun story: Sony forgot to remove a QAF utility gamecard from a Playstation Vita devkit that was sent to destroy. We of course dumped it. Besides the qaf utility app we found 90 signed external qaf tokens (they also contain ConsoleIDs). Fun.”
Although QA Flags can be very useful (enabling specific debug menus, showing some hidden information on the console, and in some cases allow downgrading by bypassing firmware checks), it’s unclear what the long term benefits of these findings will be. Mathieulh says:
“Sadly after decrypting the app itself all it does is request a token to some sony computer, copy it to gcrw0 and write it to nvs. No private key on the cart.”
Nonetheless it’s always exciting to see the scene score some new secret stuff 🙂