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Did Custom Firmware Cause the PSN Shutdown?

A third-party modification may be responsible for crippling Sony's online service.

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We may have found the culprit responsible for taking down the PlayStation Network. Strong emphasis on may. A user on Reddit has stepped forward and claims to know what crippled the PSN last Wednesday, April 20, 2011. This Reddit user, chesh420, who is a moderator on the website PSX-Scene.com, claims that a custom firmware modification for the PS3, called Rebug, allowed a number of PlayStation Network users the ability to use fake credit card numbers and authentication codes to freely download PSN titles and content.

How this works is such: the Rebug firmware essentially turns the user’s PS3 into something that resembled a developer console. Then, through a little finagling, the user can gain access to the developer-specific version of the PSN. Now this is where things get messed up. Essentially, people that have gotten this far can put in fake credit card numbers and authentication codes and have them accepted because the developer’s version of the PSN doesn’t check for authorization due to a developer being “trusted” by Sony. Therefore, it was like a buffet at Sizzler for these pirates, as they were freely able to download anything on the PSN free of charge using completely fake, made up identities and information.

But let it be said again, this explanation for the outage is still at hardcore rumor status. This Reddit user could be blowing smoke up our asses. Speaking of smoke, isn’t it convenient that the PSN goes down on 4/20 and this user’s name is “chesh420.” Hmm, I smell a conspiracy… and pot!

But if this is indeed the case, it gives Sony a legitimate reason for pulling the plug on the PSN in order to patch up this gapping hole. What sucks is that every user of the PSN that doesn’t modify their console is out in the lurch, stuck waiting for Sony to fix the issue as collateral damage to hacking and piracy. Lame-o.