Since, the announcement ten days ago, Rejuvenate received tons of positive reception and thousands of downloads. Progress on both SDK projects is moving at fast speeds. There are already Vita homebrew projects in the works. No doubt, there are more to come. However, Sony’s response has not been positive. Yesterday, Sony released firmware 3.52 which revokes access to PSM DevAssistant and PSM Unity DevAssistant along with a friendly request for PSM developers to delete the DevAssistant from their devices. This means that if you ever want to run homebrew on your Vita, regardless of your opinions on the current limitations and regardless of your ability to use PSM, do NOT update to 3.52.
The following was taken from a series of unpublished posts I wrote back in September 2012 (almost three years ago). The posts not only detail the exploit I found but also the thought process that led me to it. I intended to publish it as soon as the exploit was patched by Sony or after someone found another exploit on the system by examining the memory dumps. However, as of today, the PSM privilege escalation is still the only known way to execute native ARM code on the PS Vita. Apologizes for the outdated references.
To start, lets brainstorm the different ways we can attack this black box of a device. Typically, a new device is unlocked in a process that usually involves: 1) dumping the device’s RAM/ROM/NAND, 2) analyzing the dumps for information and vulnerabilities, 3) using the vulnerability to create a tool that allows others to easily gain root access.
Rejuvenate, announced last week allows users to install unofficial applications and games (homebrew) onto their PS Vita device. Please read that announcement post for more information. Today, the public beta is ready for testing.
The beta is only for those who were able to obtain a publisher’s license (whose application was approved by Sony before the deadline on May 31). For the rest of you who do not have the publisher license (and no friends with a publisher license) but only the DevAssist app on your Vita, please wait for further instructions to come.
Update: It seems that Sony has closed this loophole. However, if you own a PS3, there is another way.
Did you miss the call to register for PSM? People found out today that if you did not register for PSM (not the publisher’s license that requires manual approval, but the general developer registration), they cannot download the Developer Assistant app on their Vita in order to run Rejuvenate. Not to worry, I have discovered a workaround. But act quickly because Sony will patch this loophole soon and possibly also remove the Developer Assistant from PSN, so you should download it now.
(Sadly, they did not give me a spot at the Sony E3 conference, so I have to make do with this blog post.) I am excited to announce Rejuvenate, a native homebrew platform for PS Vita. The tools that will be released through the next couple of weeks will allow developers (not in contract with Sony) to develop and test games, apps, and more on the PS Vita. These unofficial software can run on any PS Vita handheld device without approval by Sony. These tools cannot enable pirated or backup games to run (I’m not just saying this… the exploits used does not have enough privilege to enable such tasks). Rejuvenate requires PlayStation Mobile Development Assistant to be installed on your Vita! Sony will remove this from PSN soon, so if you wish to ever run homebrew apps on your PS Vita, you must download this app now!
Most of our embedded devices use eMMC, but security into eMMC (as far as I know) has not been extensively studied or taken account of in threat models. In the small sample of devices I’ve looked at, the ability to send raw commands to the eMMC only requires kernel access. If you look at the Android platform, kernel hacks are not uncommon and remote kernel hacks are also not a rarity. There are certain commands that a hacker can send which can permanently disable (brick) a device. Continue reading
One of largest barrier to native PS Vita homebrew is the lack of an open toolchain and SDK. Essentially, we need something like pspsdk for the Vita. The reason why we don’t have it is because there are people who have an understanding of how the Vita’s executable format works but lack the time to code up the tools and there are people who have the time and ability to create such tools but lack the knowledge of Vita’s internals. The solution, I believe is to publish a comprehensive document detailing how the Vita’s executable format is laid out and the requirements for an open toolchain. Anyone with coding skills can now work on an open SDK; no Vita knowledge required! Continue reading