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…

4 thoughts on “The sad state of reverse engineering software/hardware protections

  1. Is there at least one exe-protector made for OS X? I’m sorry but OS X doesn’t seem to be a good platform to create complex protections (I’m talking from my perspective, it’s just not worth it), your blog seems to be the only place talking about OS X reversing and I enjoy reading it but as far as going for it, well Windows has much larger market for creating tools and writing about its internals.

    Another thing is that I live in Poland and 99% of my friends / family are using PCs because Macs are twice as much expensive as a good PC and you won’t even find them in regular computer stores and many reversing people comes from middle and eastern Europe (Poland, Ukraine, Russia) where Macs aren’t popular at all so who do you expect to write tools / tutorials?

    1. You are right but I wasn’t talking directly about OS X but reverse engineering in general. It’s getting a dangerous activity when you decide to publish your findings. So it will go back underground and private.

  2. I agree with you. Even if I hate some of the most famous guys in the ps3 hacking scene because of their egomania, I hope that they’ll win the lawsuit. Because if they lose every console hacker and the attempting ones won’t reveal any findings, and as you said the knowledge will go back private, at least more underground than right now.

    I hope this case won’t affect other areas, like osx reversing, iphone hacking etc…

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