The sad state of reverse engineering software/hardware protections

I have just finished reading the legal papers served against Geohot regarding the PS3 jailbreaking/cracking/private keys/etc. It shows the sad state that we have reached into reverse engineering and society as a whole. It’s a fight between knowledge and profit, and in the middle there is a grey area called piracy.

My passion for knowledge is very deep and I like to try to understand everything I can. I remember the day I had my Commodore Amiga 500 and someone sent me a disk with a special menu that I never saw before. I spent a few days to understand how it was done. I started into breaking protections because of that magical aura around hardware dongles – they were said to be unbreakable or very hard to beat, which is of course the type of thing that curious people love to heard since they mean a challenge. I love to share information and knowledge because that forces me to keep searching for more, better and innovative information. That’s why I created this blog 3 years ago – very few information regarding OS X reversing was available. The result is that more people are reversing into OS X although the results and tools produced don’t seem to follow such increase.

I deeply understand the motivations behind breaking consoles protections (Bunnie’s “Hacking the XBOX” book is a great read about this) and showing to the world the results. Most of us are purely driven by curiosity and knowledge (and public acknowledgement is always a great ego booster – we Humans require maintenance to our egos!) and usually don’t think about the consequences or down play them (well most are good intentioned).

The problem is that the world these days is driven by greed – everyone wants to have more money, preferably without working too much. And that’s why we arrived to this clash between knowledge and profits. We want our own work to be valued (in the form of a job, for example) but then we don’t respect others work. Of course companies aren’t the good side of this story – they also abuse their customers and took so many bad decisions that we as a society stopped believing them. And so we entered in a war that it’s getting worst everyday. Instead of increasing transparency and public information, like Wikileaks propaganda wants to impose us, everything will get worst – information will be more restricted and penalties for those who are curious will increase, if they come public with their findings. Taking information private will be worse for the society, very few will take a chance to publish it since these new “crimes” are being punished with harsh sentences, in some countries higher than rape and robbery! This is crazy!

It’s sad watching knowledge going private…