PS Vita exploit releases: the new way of the Ninja?

March 3, 2014

I stopped counting how many exploits have been released over the past 2 years to run either VHBL (Homebrew loader) or TN-V (Custom Firmware) on our Vitas. I think we’re close to 20 by now. As we discovered several years ago, releasing an exploit for the always-connected PS vita would never be as easy as it used to be for the PSP.

Back in 2012, I introduced the concept of “Ninja releases“, where we secretly announce the name of an exploited game to our community (members of /talk) in a progressive way, in order to avoid Sony from removing it from their stores. Eventually, we do announce the name of the exploited game publicly, which usually leaves a few days for people “not in the list” to get the exploit before Sony removes the game from their store.

This release mechanism has shown its strengths over the past 2 years, but also weaknesses. There’s so much trust we can put in a “small” community of 50’000 people, and recently we’ve seen that the information tends to leak before we could do a proper public announce. A few times, Sony was made aware of the exploit before we could announce it.

Overall this means today that it is extremely difficult for “new” people on the scene to get access to the exploits, and the lack of trust also frustrates the devs who put hundreds of hours in these hacks, just to see them pulled by Sony because a handful of people can’t seem to hold their tongue.

As a result of this frustration, hackers are trying new techniques to release their hacks. Recently, both Acid_snake and Mathew_wi have taken upon themselves to release their own exploits in a different way: by releasing them secretly to a handful of people, and never make a public announcement. Of course, this means the exploit never makes it to the masses, but it dramatically decreases the risk of a leak, as all the winners of the “secret” have personal interest in not revealing the exploit.

Does this mean there will not be any more Ninja releases in the future? Honestly, I can’t tell, but I think it will depend on the next Vita Firmware, a lot. We’re all a bit surprised that Sony hasn’t released a new PS Vita firmware yet, and with 4 public exploits announced so far for the latest firmware 3.01, I think hackers are willing to try a few new things until the next firmware. But I am hearing feedback that these random giveaways do not feel any more “fair” than the old school ninja releases. What are your thoughts on that?

The 10 winners for Acid_Snake’s giveaway have already been selected, but in order to not get them harassed, their names have been kept a secret. Mathew_wi’s giveaway is still ongoing, and you can still participate.

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