Subverting PS4 And PS5 Through The PS2 Emulator

Screenshot of the PS4 screen, showing a "Waiting to receive disc image file..." notification on the left, and a Windows commandline window with nc running on the right, sending an .iso file to some IP address - presumably the PS4

Game console hacking remains a fascinating area, and we’re glad when someone brings the spoils of exploration for us to marvel at. This time, we’re looking at the [mast1c0re] hack story by [cturt] – an effort to find bugs in PS2 emulation toolkit present on Sony PlayStation 4 and 5 consoles, proving fruitful in the end. What’s more, this exploit seems unpatchable – not technically, but under the Sony’s security practices, this emulator falls under the category of things they refuse to patch when identified.

In this story, we’re taken on a journey through the PS2 emulator internals, going through known-exploitable PS2 games and learning about a prospective entry point. Circling around it, collecting primitives and gadgets, bypassing ASLR on the way there, the emulator is eventually escaped, with a trove of insights shared along the way. As a demonstration, [cturt] successfully loaded a different PS2 game from outside the PS2 emulator, transferring it to the PS4 over WiFi!

We’re waiting impatiently for Part 2, 404 for now – exploring arbitrary native code writing possibilities from this point, as well as describing how Sony reacted to it – this having been disclosed to them over a year ago by now. Such hacks tend to bring plenty of homebrew and emulation capabilities to us, and it’s nice to have something that could work on the PS5. And if neither homebrew nor emulation is your fancy, you can always look into having your perhaps underutilized PS4 run Linux instead, perhaps, even turn it into a Linux server!

We thank [DoZe] for sharing this with us!

7 thoughts on “Subverting PS4 And PS5 Through The PS2 Emulator

    1. “All it needs is either a PS2-on-PS4 game or a physical Playstation 2 game that has a PS4 console compatible disc. Therefore, according to Cturt, it is also impossible for Sony to plug the vulnerability as a version of the PS2 emulator to be abused is associated with each PS2-on-PS4 game instead of being stored separately as a main part of the console operating system.”

      If Sony loses enough money they’ll just disable emulation of PS2 on PS4. They did the same thing with Linux on the PS3. No idea why people think it wont be patched out if it becomes a problem.

      1. They disabled PS2 on PS3. I’ve been told they even managed to disable PS2 support on the PS3 models with both hardware chips for PS2 games, as well as the models using one hardware chip and software emulation for the rest.

        “PS3. It only does everything” except run Linux, play PS2 games, and whatever else Sony has disabled and taken away since launch date.

        1. Not true in the least. The fat ps3 that includes ps2 hardware still plays ps2 games & the ps3 that uses emulation & the ps2 GPU still plays ps2 games. Plus all versions of ps3 support ps2 emulation.

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