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Video: PS Vita Content Manager and Security Concerns of Wololo


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151w ago - Following up on the PS Vita HBL Demo, today PlayStation Vita hacker wololo has shared details on the PS Vita Content Manager and the related security concerns as outlined below.

To quote: A few days ago I posted my concerns about the “Content Manager” tool, a tool that is compulsory to install and use if you want to copy files from and to your vita. Some people said I was paranoid (see my answer to that at the end of the article), and others shared my concerns and started digging. Interestingly enough, that article gathered almost as much attention as my much more spectacular (in my opinion) video of a Megadrive emulator running on the vita.

Some sites took my words out of context and said that I had proof Sony is spying on us when we copy files. This is not true, I don’t have any proof, just lots of concerns. Because of that I decided to call Sony’s customer service in order to get more information. Read along.

First of all, a piece of relatively good news: some users on French site psvitagen mentioned that it is possible to copy Movies and Music without being connected to the internet, through the dedicated “Music” and “Movie” sections of the vita.

I confirmed this is true, so movies, music and pictures can still be copied to the vita even without an internet connection. The internet connection is however, as far as I can tell, required to copy anything else, which, given the limited possibilities of the vita, basically means PSP/Vita games and/or savedata.

In theory and from what I saw so far, the internet connection is probably used for two things: check for new versions of the firmware (an update was enforced on me if I wanted to keep using the content manager 2 days ago), and possibly do some DRM verifications. That’s the theory, and is somewhat confirmed by some early investigations of the binary by dev Hykem.

So, when you copy it to your vita, Sony checks that your Vita game or your Sony-purchased movie is actually “ok” to play on your vita, to make sure you didn’t steal it or copied it from a friend’s computer. Fair enough (although I would question why this check needs to be done there, rather than directly on the vita). But what happens for content that does not require any Sony drm check is my concern.

Even though it’s possible to copy them without an internet connection, does Sony gather any information on my music, my pictures, or my movies (and how about my games savedata, which do require the internet connection while being transferred) ? Do they collect filenames, id3 tag, or exif information? Probably not, but more transparency on the subject would definitely be welcome. This is not about hacking here, this is about sending private information to a company that has proven regularly that they [Register or Login to view links] with our data.

So, full of concerns, I decided to call Sony’s customer service today (actually my wife did it for me...). The person we talked to, as expected, wasn’t a technical person and therefore had close to no information on this. She was aware that an internet connection is required, and mentioned to us that this is written on the manual.

We explained that we knew that, and that we have an Internet connection (it usually takes time when calling a customer service to explain that you don’t have a technical problem using the software, but an ethical one) , but we’d like to disconnect it when it is not necessary, because we don’t see the point in being connected to Sony’s server when we transfer files between two pieces of hardware we own (at which point my wife added: “especially given what happened to your company recently, we’re a bit concerned about our private information“. Hehe, that’s why I love her ).

Understanding our concern the person at the customer service contacted somebody more technical to get more information on the subject. She then came back to us and told us this was in place to make sure that the computer running the content manager is correctly “associated” to the Vita. She didn’t have any technical details to share about the firmware upgrade or the DRM verifications, but she guaranteed us that no personal data was being transferred. She also gave us her name (which I won’t share here) in case we have more questions on the subject (but don’t ask me to call them more, first it’s not a free call, and second I already felt super bad to have my wife spend 30 boring minutes on the phone for me because of my new toy)

(one thing I’d like to say is that every time I contacted Sony’s customer service, their answers were fairly fast and accurate. They usually give me bad news, but they’re doing their best to help. The only time they were completely wrong was when my PSP 1000 stopped accepting connecting to Media Go. They told me it was because the PSP was a Japanese PSP, and I was trying to connect to the European store. I knew this wasn’t true since I had no problem doing the exact same thing with two other PSPs. The real cause was probably that Sony had banned my console for some reason. Anwyays overall thumbs up for the efficiency of the customer service)

So, that’s the official answer, but I’m sure some of us will pass the PC parts of the Content Manager through their microscopes to confirm if this is true. But at least now I have some official information from Sony, which is, in a way, positive. Nevertheless, it does not statisfy my curiosity on some of the files found by Hykem, (such as Mp3Promoter.suprx, png_promoter.suprx, etc… so I’m sure many people will want to learn more about this thing.

Oh, Before I go...

Note: don’t read the section below if you don’t like me when I rant, I know some of you don’t like me when I do that (Spare me the “why do you buy Sony products in the first place?” types of comments if possible, as that’s not the point)

A personal note about why I’m doing all of this, and a message to haters. There’s something interesting about fanboys, no matter how much you show them the truth and give them verifiable proof about it, they’ll always find excuses to justify the illegal behavior of their favorite company. A few days ago I started investigating the insides of the PS Vita. I got HBL to run on it, and was able to run PSP homebrews on the vita. Fanboys told me I would kill the vita because of piracy.

I also raised privacy concerns about the vita “content manager”, a tool that is compulsory to use if you want to transfer some files from and to your vita, and requires you to be constantly connected to the internet while doing so. Again, Sony fanboys told me Sony would never spy on their users, or went [Register or Login to view links] on me, telling me that Sony probably has good reasons to spy on me in the first place.

Well guess what, champions: my work on the PSP was never used in any way to pirate Sony’s content, because it is not technically doable to do such a thing with HBL. And telling me that Sony would never do something illegal to their users is completely forgetting that they intentionally did so a few years ago with their infamous [Register or Login to view links].

There’s no historical record of me being a bad guy, I was never sued or sent to jail in my life, while Sony has proven several times to engage in illegal or barely legal activities (see the rootkit case, or the Sony VS Universal studios case), but yet in Sony fanboys’ heads, I am the one with a suspicious behavior. Next time you comment on my work, just get your facts straight, not all hackers are promoting piracy, and my work (HBL) cannot be used to pirate games.

I won’t pretend I’m a fighter of freedom or anything, I do this mostly for fun, but I take extra care to do things that are legal, or at least not ethically questionable. The same cannot be said for Sony, so it is perfectly legit to have doubts about the tools they make me install on my machine, even if in the end the suspicions were wrong.

Sony lost their “presumption of innocence” rights years ago, I’d rather assume they’re guilty first, than feel sorry for myself later when the contents of my hard drives get leaked from Sony’s servers by some black hat hacker.









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PS3 News's Avatar
#4 - PS3 News - 153w ago
Here are also some PlayStation Vita internal pics for those interested via Japanese site pocketnews.cocolog-nifty.com/pkns/2011/12/ps-vita-pch-110.html

PS3 News's Avatar
#3 - PS3 News - 153w ago
Thanks, if/when found it will be useful to grab the PS Vita updates from similar to the PSP and PS3 updater links.

Below are a few PS Vita links from zecoxao and SKFU and some pics from psx-sense.nl/75005/japanse-playstation-store-vol-met-ps-vita-content-de-fotos/:

[Register or Login to view links]

[Register or Login to view links]

Edit: Here are the PS Vita updater links for those interested:

Retail (JP) [Register or Login to view links]
Retail (EU) [Register or Login to view links]
Retail (US) [Register or Login to view links]
Shop (JP) [Register or Login to view links]

CJPC's Avatar
#2 - CJPC - 153w ago
Currently working on checking where the updates are coming from - it seems like Sony is doing what it can to not expose the update link. Kind of odd, eh?

PS3 News's Avatar
#1 - PS3 News - 153w ago
Update: Sony has now released [Register or Login to view links], and although no official changelog is available according to [Register or Login to view links] the update fixes an issue with Dynasty Warriors Next that prevented players from progressing further.

With the Japanese release of PlayStation Vita slated for tomorrow, Sony has now released a PS Vita 1.50 Firmware update which allows for PSN feature access including the PlayStation Store alongside a Content Manager Assistant application for updating via PC.

Download: [Register or Login to view links] / [Register or Login to view links] / [Register or Login to view links]

Some PS Vita Disassembled Pictures revealing the internal components are also available, and [Register or Login to view links] also reports that the PlayStation Vita games ship without instruction manuals as it appears Sony is ditching a paper manual in favor of an in-game digital manual.

The package includes a single sheet of paper showing warning messages and details on a firmware update that's included on the card.

To quote from Sony's official PS Vita site: PlayStation Vita System Software Update - System software version 1.50 for PlayStation Vita Update

From 17 December 2011 and began updating the system software version 1.50. To become available and some features of the PlayStation Network features, updates the system software of PS Vita (Update) is required.

PS Vita also system software, by updating, adding and security can be enhanced many features. Please use the update to the latest version.

For more information on the latest system software features of the [Register or Login to view links] please visit.

Interestingly, the guide reveals that users can now take screenshots during gameplay, which are saved as an image to their PlayStation Vita Memory Stick.

How to Update

By one of the following methods, you can update the system software on PS Vita:

  • Update using a Wi-Fi - Wi-updates with the PS Vita-Fi. ([Register or Login to view links])
  • Connected to the PS3 update - Using the network function of PS3, the latest update file download over the Internet. ([Register or Login to view links])
  • Connected to the PC and update - Using computer networking capabilities, download the latest updates via the Internet. ([Register or Login to view links])
  • PS Vita card to update - If the PS Vita card data includes updates to update using the PS Vita card. ([Register or Login to view links])

After updating, the home screen of PS Vita Setting (Settings)> [start]> [System]> [System Information and tap. [System Software] If the data is displayed and updated version, and has been updated correctly.

And update the system software update to connect to PlayStation Vita PC

Connected to the PC and update

Using computer networking capabilities, download the latest updates via the Internet. To update your system, you must keep the following states in advance the target computer.

  • Keep connected to the Internet
  • Administrative Assistant to the content you download / install the administrative assistant for PlayStation content can be downloaded from the Web site: [Register or Login to view links]

1. PC, to determine whether to launch a content management assistant. You can check the computer's system tray.
2. Connect the USB cable to PC and PS Vita.
3. In the PS Vita, Setting (Settings)> [start]> [System Update]> [to be updated by connecting to a PC] to tap. Using computer networking capabilities, download the latest updates via the Internet. Please follow the instructions on the screen then.

Content Manager Assistant

Content Manager Assistant for PlayStation is a computer application that enables data transfer between a PS Vita system and a computer. By installing it on your computer, you can do things like copy content from your computer to your PS Vita system and back up data from your PS Vita system to your computer.

Download: [Register or Login to view links] / [Register or Login to view links] / [Register or Login to view links]

Main Features

  • Backing up saved data and application data (game data) - You can back up the saved data for games played on your PS Vita system, and the application data (game data) for games purchased from PlayStation Store to your computer.
  • Copying music, image, and video files - You can display lists of music, image, and video files stored on your computer and transfer them to your PS Vita system. You can also transfer music, image, and video files in the opposite direction.
  • Backing up system files - You can back up system files saved on the PS Vita memory card or in system memory to your computer.
  • Performing a system update of the PS Vita system - When a Wi-Fi access point is not available, you can perform a system update of the PS Vita system using a computer that can connect to the Internet.

For detailed operating instructions for each feature, and for information about other features, see the [Register or Login to view links] for the PS Vita system.

Installation and Uninstallation

Installation

Download the installation file (above) and save the file on your desktop or in a convenient folder. When the downloaded file is launched, the installation screen for Content Manager Assistant for PlayStation will appear. Follow the on-screen instructions to perform the installation.

  • During the installation process, dialog boxes might appear that direct you to download components (additional software) needed to operate Content Manager Assistant for PlayStation. If this happens, follow the on-screen instructions to download the components.
  • After the installation is complete, a message for creating the database for the PS Vita system will appear when Content Manager Assistant for PlayStation is launched for the first time.
  • After the installation is complete, if a dialog box like the one shown below appears, click [x] in the upper right of the dialog box to close it.

Uninstallation

From the Windows control panel, select “Add or Remove Programs” (if using Windows XP) or “Programs and Features” (if using Windows Vista or Windows 7), and remove the program shown below.

Content Manager Assistant for PlayStation

Operating Environment

PS Vita system

  • PS Vita system (system software version 1.00 or later)
  • USB cable

Computer running a Microsoft Windows operating system

One of the following operating systems:

  • Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 3 or later (32-bit version only)
  • Windows Vista Service Pack 2 or later (32-bit or 64-bit version)
  • Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (32-bit or 64-bit version) or later
  • 1 GHz processor or greater
  • At least 150 MB of free space on the hard disk
  • At least 512 MB of RAM
  • Internet Explorer 7.0 or later
  • Windows Media Format Runtime 11 or later (for Windows XP) (included in the installation)
  • Windows Media Player 11 (for Windows Vista)
  • Media Feature Pack (for Windows 7 N and Windows 7 KN)
  • A USB 2.0-compatible port (used for connecting the PS Vita system)
  • An Internet connection

Operations on custom-built computers are not guaranteed.

How to Access the PS Vita Recovery Menu

The PlayStation Vita Recovery Menu offers users several tools to fix corrupt system files, upgrade your firmware, format memory stick and more. It is a powerful tool and several features should be used with caution as they can remove all your settings, as well as all of your saved information.

  • Turn OFF your PS Vita (Press Power Button for 10 seconds)
  • Now press and hold “R” + Power + PS (PlayStation Button)
  • Wait...
  • Now you’re in Recovery Menu (Mode)

PS Vita Recovery Menu Options

1. Restart System
This option boots your system as normal without changing any settings or files.

2. Rebuild Database
This can be a useful feature if you have lost files on your system for no apparent reason. Try using this feature to see if it can restore those files. This will also rewrite corrupted files within the database, potentially eliminating future issues. This feature should not erase any of your saved data or settings.

Deletes messages, playlists, changes made on “Information” screens, trimming information for pictures in “Photo”, video thumbnails, video playback history and video resume information. This operation may take a long time depending on the type and number of data items.

3. Format the memory card
This will format the memorycard, effectively erasing all data currently on it.

4. Restore PS Vita System
This will restore your system to original including, formatting and erasing all of the data on internal flash and returning all system settings to default. This will not take your system back to a previous Firmware release. Use this option as a last resort, unless you have nothing on the console that you want or you want to erase everything on the console, do not use this option.

5. System Update
This can useful if your system has become corrupted to the point you can not boot. This will allow the user to update their console with new firmware via PS3, PC or PS Vita memorycard.

PS Vita Hidden System Menu

This PlayStation Vita hidden system menu is present on both PS3 and PSP, and includes the product code, release build, and other internal version strings. To access it, do the following via EmuOnPSP.net:

  • Go to Settings > System > System Information
  • Press simultaneously R1 + L1 + DPad Left + Square for a few seconds
  • Release those buttons then immediately press the start button (and keep it held)



















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