In its life on the market, the PS2 has been hacked in many ways. The most obvious and complete method of hacking a PS2 is through the use of a modchip, most of which have to be soldered to the mainboard of the unit. Outside of modifying the board, there were disc swapping tricks that required a console to be opened to interfere with disc sensors. There were also some softmod methods that either involved using a modified memory card, or tricks that required the HDD expansion bay (not present on slim consoles).
The holy grail for booting unsigned / unauthorized code on a PS2 would be a method that required no modification at the hardware level, just insert the disc and watch it boot.
Twenty years after the console was introduced, software engineer CTurt has developed such a method. In a blog post, CTurt goes into detail on how he has managed to develop FreeDVDBoot - an entry-point software exploit for the console. The exploit targets the PS2's DVD-Video functionality (all PS2's can play DVDs).
CTurt found a way to exploit the PlayStation 2 DVD Player to run homebrew discs by just inserting them into an entirely unmodified PS2 console. Here is a video of the exploit in action.
The DVD player exploit is used to load ESR to boot a backup copy of a PS2 game that is stored on the same disc. Another video shows the same exploit being used to boot a small homebrew Tetris game on the PlayStation 2.
Furthermore, the blog post concludes that such a method may work on other PlayStation consoles.
"There's really no reason this general attack scenario is specific to the PlayStation 2 as all generations support some combination of burned media: from the PlayStation 1's CD support, to the PlayStation 3 and 4's Blu-ray support, with the PlayStation 4 having only removed CD support," CTech writes.
"Hacking the PS4 through Blu-ray BD-J functionality has long been discussed as an idea for an entry point. This may be something I would be interested in looking into for a long-term future project: imagine being able to burn your own PlayStation games for all generations"
Read More: cturt.github.io
Written by: James Delahunty @ 29 Jun 2020 4:00