The era of the "custom firmware" was upon us and there was a point where every console on the market could be compromised simply through running a CFW update from a memory stick.

System software 3.60 saw Sony fight back valiantly.

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The hack was server-side and there Sony was running traditional hardware with open source software, which had vulnerabilities of its own.

It's telling that even after PSN was restored to service, the underlying protocols by which PS3 "spoke" to the servers hadn't changed so much at all. A new "jailbreak" based on another USB dongle appeared last year, dubbed "True Blue".

That's what the so-called "lv0" bootloader key does, and that's the final element of Play Station 3 security that is now out there in the public domain. All the indications are that the hackers who made the discovery - who have dubbed themselves "the three muskateers" had no intention of ever making it out into the public domain.

However, one of their associates with access to their work appears to have sold it on, and the release of the bootloader keys was made in response to Far Eastern hackers looking to profit from a new wave of "custom firmware".

The original PSJailbreak was built around an exploit in the USB interface present up until firmware 3.41, and that hole was plugged by Sony within weeks.

Hackers managed to run a small amount of games built for later system software revisions but through mandatory software upgrades, access to the Play Station Network was off-limits for those who remained on the hacked firmware. Inherent weaknesses in Sony's encryption algorithms were unveiled by hacker group fail0verflow, swiftly followed by the publication of the metldr "master key" from the infamous Geohot.

The information sought is part of a jurisdictional argument over whether Sony must sue Hotz in his home state of New Jersey rather than in San Francisco, where Sony would prefer.

Regarding the Pay Pal account, Sony claims Hotz has accepted monetary donations for the hack from people residing in Northern California – an argument that, if true, might make San Francisco a proper venue for the litigation. Sony, which has threatened to sue anybody who posts the hacking tools or the encryption key, is seeking unspecified damages from Hotz.

Sony has also won subpoenas for data from You Tube and Google, as well as Twitter account data linked to Hotz, who goes by the handle Geo Hot.

Respected for his i Phone hacks and now the Play Station 3 jailbreak, the 21-year-old New Jersey man is accused of breaching the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and other laws after his website published an encryption key and software tools that allow Play Station owners to gain complete control of their consoles from the firmware on up.

It builds on a series of earlier jailbreaks that unlocked less-protected levels of the Play Station’s authentication process.