Sony to Inspect PlayStation Hacker’s Hard Drive

Wired: SAN FRANCISCO — PlayStation 3 jailbreaker George Hotz must allow console-maker Sony to comb through his computer’s hard drive and retrieve information “that relates to the hacking of the PlayStation,” a federal judge ruled Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston’s ruled from the bench in Sony’s ongoing legal action against the New Jersey hacker, who goes by GeoHot. The lawsuit is in connection to the 21-year-old being the first to fully hack the 4-year-old console, a jailbreak allowing it to play pirated and home-brewed games.

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Loner2809d ago (Edited 2809d ago )

He probably secure erased everything when he got served with papers.At least i hope so

@ Below

There is no restore points left because the entire drive is erased including the operating system.Theres no way to get back anything when its done correctly

Dante1122809d ago (Edited 2809d ago )

It'd be funny if he forgot to erase his computer restore points if he did try to erase his stuff.

Edit: I love wikianswers. Is this true?

BattleAxe2809d ago

This just in...

"Sony to give hacker Proctology Exam"

peowpeow2809d ago

It is true to some point. There are ways to permanently delete files, since when you normally delete it's basically still there and new data overwrites the old..but there's software for a perm delete

Mahr2809d ago

Tampering with federal evidence carries much stricter penalties than copyright infringement, which is what geohot is currently on the hook for. Erasing the data would be an exquisitely bad move.

smoothdude2809d ago

Well it would be a win for Sony if he did erase his harddrive as all his work will be lost. Everybody make sure that you donate $0.01 to GEO HOTZ via credit card because it costs money to charge a credit card. He would be losing money.

Hey it is my money, I can do what I want with it. Sound familiar?

Enigma_20992809d ago


Ever seen Forensic Files... yup, it is. I've seen several cases solved using this technique.


Funny you mention that... You weren't by any chance in that epic thread a few years back, were you?

bluwulf2809d ago

They can't restore thermite.

Bitches love thermtie.

uxo222809d ago

He's not stupid, I'm sure he has backed his hard drive up in several placed. He probably has friends that has copies of everything he has.

I also thinks it sets an erie precidence for a judge to grant such a thing. I'm sure sony will comb through things on his hard drive that is not related to the PS3 which would be an invasion of his privacy. A classic example of how big business can pretty much do whatever they want in this country. They can probably sell your kids into slavery if the get the right judge in a courtroom.

What's up next? The MIAA will be claiming the hard drives of many people that they claim has stolen music. Software companies will be requesting the inspection of computer systems for suspected software pirates. A lot of you people are glad for sony's victory, but you won't be glad for what it hold to future privacies.

Mark my words, this is not a good thing.

Biggest2809d ago

But that WOULD be stupid. No one involved in illegal proceedings is stupid enough to give all the info to other people. If they do, they won't be involved with illegal proceedings for long. Adding more evidence and witnesses is stupid as hell.

inveni02809d ago

Seems like this judge is siding with Sony.

That's a good thing. It's a sad world when you can't make a profit off of something you've worked so hard to create. Hackers like GeoHot think that taking Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness from big companies gives it to everyone else, but that's just not true in cases like these.

HolyOrangeCows2809d ago (Edited 2809d ago )

You mean hobbit and goblin porn.

He probably already backed it up and set atomic magnets to the hard-drive (Like in "The Core"), but if there's still info, I'm sure it will be quite useful to Sony.

Death to the hackers.

badz1492809d ago

what do his parents think at the time like this? I don't think they're happy. maybe this will make them regret letting him in the basement for too long!

GrandTheftZamboni2809d ago


If you are right about the privacy concerns who should we blame? Sony, legal system or hackers?

Inside_out2809d ago

I don't agree with hacking but i can't stand companies like Sony who think they can just walk all over everyone's rights when they feel like it. They have very little evidence and are grasping at straws, trying to over turn laws...this is bullshit. I felt sorry for Sony in the beginning of this whole mess...not anymore. If the kid did something wrong...charge him, if not go back to Japan.

What's to stop Sony from putting some thing on the hd. It's a farce at this point. They have nothing and now are trying to make shit up. Geo needs a Donald Trump type of lawyer to slap Sony straight.

mac_sparrow2809d ago

"What's to stop Sony from putting some thing on the hd"

Umm, the fact that they won't get the original, they'll get a backup. Do you really think that they look for evidence on the original drive?
What if it were set up in such a way that a failed attempt at cracking encryption wiped the drive?

They'll get a copy, then they have to note where the evidence is, and prove its existence on the back up that the court has.

Ju2809d ago

Gehot is all about openness, isn't he? He want's to open company secrets and publish them.

Now we want to be concerned with his "selective" privacy? In the worst case he gets what he cries for. He has to make his own stuff public. Good job. Welcome to the other side of the fence.

So far he had no problems to define for everybody else what privacy is for a company. I am sure if he is true to his argument he can open all his tools and research.

inveni02809d ago

Bubs for Well Said. Don't let Sony have privacy, but demand it for yourself? Hypocrisy...the idiot's kryptonite. Looks like GeoHot is lying in the bed he made. Karma win.

DragonKnight2809d ago

@cez of rage: Very little evidence? GeoHot ADMITTED to doing it. I'm pretty sure that that's all that any judge would need to grant this kind of request. You act as though there is reasonable doubt as to the fact that GeoHot hacked and distributed the keys. He openly admitted to it thinking the iPhone ruling would save him.

On another note, I'm sure that the judge will probably order supervision so that Sony can only look for relevant data.

Thecraft19892809d ago (Edited 2809d ago )

No its not when the HDD is formatted multiple times that's it. But formatting would probably be tampering with evidence meaning a bigger punishment than Copy right infringement.

GodsHand2809d ago

@ Dante112

You, any anybody can recover deleted data. But if you overwrite the data over and over again with useless data, nobody can recover that. I once had a programe called system mechanic, which installed another trash bin on your desktop that was labled incinerate. With in that floder was a utiltiy to overwrite deleted data up to 10 times with garbage files. The only problem with it that I found was the larger the file, the longer it took to delete at a 10 times overwrite.

MRMagoo1232809d ago

I dont think he would of deleted his HD i suspect he wouldnt of even thought for a second sony would get control of it so would not of deleted anything i hope they find some embarrassing pics that "somehow" get leaked involving him and his mum and a tub of butter

AndrewRyan2809d ago

Hacker's are not stupid. They get rid of all the traces of their work.

SephireX2809d ago

Let's hope Geohot wins the case because God help the PS3 if he doesn't. Hackers will rip it to shreds with vengeance against Sony who are to blame in the first place. Sony included the OtherOs feature which Geohot used to get the root keys. They are to blame and them only. Of course the dumb non-technical non-knowledgeable Sony fanboys will disagree but their opinions don't count in my eyes.

blahblah2809d ago (Edited 2809d ago )

yes, it is. shredding would actually be as long as writing same size file. fat32 for example only changed first letter in file name to greek letter pi and marked place as available. but, as long as that was not rewritten, file still existed

although, there are shredding tools and more importantly, there are encrypted partitions (preferably partitioned over many files) with dead mans hook. and i'm quite sure he used the second one.

as i have quite a lot of sensitive informations on my notebook (like ssh keys and passwords for servers i maintain), i have to use that. even if i lose my notebook, unless you exactly know how to prevent dead mans hook during 5 min time limit, encrypted disk wipes into nothing. the only way to avoid dead mans hook is to put disk into other version of os, but good luck mounting that one as it depends on original. and the only time disk got wiped was when i worked drunk as hell, too drunk to remember.

but hey, happened to NASA

so always, if you sell your computer use tool like

DaTruth2809d ago

"This just in..."

"Sony to give hacker Proctology Exam"

They are saving that for his cellmate to do!

Guitardr852809d ago

@ Seph

And your opinion doesn't count either...But the court's does and THEY are siding with Sony. GET OVER IT!

The era of emo heartbleeding kids is over

diatom2809d ago (Edited 2809d ago )

Great, take a civil DMCA case to a felony contempt of court/destruction of evidence charge...

Bankruptcy is 1000X better then cell mate lovin.

catguykyou2809d ago (Edited 2809d ago )

He's being sued, not taken to court for a crime. There is a deference. He won't be going to jail for this. Not unless the authorities press charges, which they haven't. This is a simple matter of Sony wanting to shut him down so he can never do this again, while delivering a message to anyone else who is thinking of doing it.
I swear, based off of peoples comments, hacking the PS3 is the equivalent of killing the president/ prime minister.

ThanatosDMC2808d ago

What about Sony's rights?

DragonKnight2808d ago

@SephireX: You're kidding right? Let me explain 2 things to you.

One. Having knowledge in technology has absolutely nothing to do with anything in the context which you used the phrase. You don't have to have knowledge in hacking to disagree with GeoHot.

Two. Allow me to form for you a chain of events. Sony releases 60GB Phat PS3 with OtherOS feature. This feature allows the installation of the Linux OS, granting the ability to use homebrew apps and games through said OS. Sony provided that feature LEGITIMATELY. Was it good enough for hackers? No.

GeoHot decided to use that feature to hack the PS3. His original claim for doing this? To open access to the RSX GPU, which Sony blocked for memory reasons.

Sony implemented a "two birds with one stone" maneuver when GeoHot did this. In order to address memory footprint issues of the PS3's hypervisor, as well as stop GeoHot in his tracks, Sony not only removed OtherOS from older model PS3's but removed the feature entirely from the Slim model even before GeoHot's original hack attempt.

So, all of you saying that this hack was due to the removal of OtherOS are forgetting a simple fact. That being that WITH OtherOS still available in the beginning, hacking attempts were still made for other reasons.

It is a lame attempt at justification to say that anyone hacked the PS3 to restore OtherOS, because the hacks were attempted even with OtherOS. Hackers just don't want to admit that they want free games. Because they look bad if they do.

So no, hoping GeoHot wins this case will do absolutely nothing. If he wins, hacks continue and get worse. If he loses, same thing except hackers won't be so public lest they get sued as well.

Think before typing.

+ Show (27) more repliesLast reply 2808d ago
Blacksand12809d ago

One down many more to go Sony.

Noami2809d ago

i think right about now hacker see sony as the same Jew saw Hitler.

phinch2809d ago


I'm sorry but that's not even comparable

nycrekid2809d ago


That is about the dumbest thing i have every read on N4g. If that was the case every single hacker in the world would be dead.

ZombieNinjaPanda2809d ago


So what about all the other people on here saying things like "hackers are scum of the earth, they deserve to be raped" or "Hang them!"

It's really disgusting how all of you are reacting to this situation.

Biggest2809d ago

That isn't comparable either, ZombieNinjaPanda. Hackers have proven themselves to be criminals. If they end up in prison they will probably be raped. I haven't seen anyone say "Hang them!" yet. But when they do, it'll be considered a bit excessive. It is no where NEAR the moronic bullshit that Noami typed.

+ Show (2) more repliesLast reply 2809d ago
ActionBastard2809d ago (Edited 2809d ago )

Formatting a hard drive doesn't mean anything. Data IS recoverable. Welcome to 2011.

EDIT: It is true. I worked for a data recovery company and yes, magnets coming in contact with school drives, did happen and all were restored. Unless there is physical damage to the drive, you can get anything back. IT Forensics exists for a reason. If he did move it to a NAS, the logging of whatever OS he uses capture the "move" and still, if deleted can be restored probably helping secure a second warrant.

kaveti66162809d ago (Edited 2809d ago )

that's not true. magnets can wipe drives completely. and who's to say he stored his info on his main drive. maybe he relayed everything to an NAS. That way, Sony has to obtain another warrant before they can search his other property. By that time, who knows what he'll do.


Exactly, this guy is a professional hacker. The chances that he hasn't already wiped his drive using an external method such as a magnetic field conductor is very slim.

I even think he could have done this as a precaution as soon as he found out he was being sued. Sony waited a little too long to get a ruling to seize his property.

Anarki2809d ago

When a computer formats a hard drive, it leaves behind ghost files... There are ways to completely format the drive, but it requires external hardware xD

kneon2809d ago

As Action Bastard said, a magnet is not going to securely erase a drive. There are programs to completely erase a drive, they involve repeatedly overwriting the drive, many times. If you've got someone really determined after your data it will take quite a few passes to keep them from getting at your data.

Dark_Overlord2809d ago

I depends how it is deleted, if the file is deleted then overwritten there is no chance of recovery

smoothdude2809d ago

Yeah, but is he only 21 and 21 year olds aren't the brightest crayon on the box.

kaveti66162809d ago

I stand corrected. magnets don't do the trick.

at below, he is not like most 21 year olds.

branchedout2809d ago


I would love to see your box of crayons.

GameSpawn2809d ago

People replying to Action Bastard about being able to get away with simply deleting files just don't really understand how hard drives really work.

Hard drives store information as magnetic 1s and 0s or positives and negatives. However, due to the physics involved that information on your hard drives is not a HARD 1 or 0, there can be faint differences in magnetic charge leaving a "ghost" of the data where it was written to. Overwriting the data doesn't make it completely unrecoverable. The only way to delete data and still use the drive is to ZERO the entire drive multiple times (Mac OS gives you an option of 7 pass, takes an f-ing long time, or if your paranoid a 35 pass erasure, takes an eternity). You cannot erase just one file or specific files on your hard drive this way because hard drives write data randomly to different areas based on where the head "bounces" to, making the task of completely erasing one random segmented file impossible. Take a Computer Org and Physics class for god's sake.

In the end like AB pointed out; the only quick and easy way to make data recovery impossible is to physically destroy the drive (you can simply drill three large holes around the radius of the platters, laptop hard drive platters may even shatter when this is done).

Of course Mr. Hotz cannot begin to do any of these due to the amount of time required (7-35 pass erasure) or suspicion involved in destroying evidence as well as a felony in doing either.

ct032809d ago

If you worked for a data recovery company, then you should be aware of certain standards used by Governments to ensure that none of the data is recoverable. Of course you can wipe a hard drive clean to a point where nothing can be recovered.

blahblah2809d ago


and you seem not to understand how partitions work;) you are 100% correct about hdd.

but, what do you do when you soft mounted encrypted partition which is constructed from various files over 2 or more drives? good luck mounting it in any other os and good luck even discovering it. simplest trick is to create few file partitions over 2 or more drives, make raid 0 over them and create encrypted partition. now with one file missing, you will never get anything. and good luck discovering that fact. finding "needle in the hay" just got new meaning

rumplstilts2809d ago

@ Action Bastard

You used to work for a data recovery company? Any funny stories?

Armyless2809d ago

Low-level formatting can be done through BIOS with SCSI controllers. It writes 1's or 0's across the entire drive.

GameSpawn2808d ago (Edited 2808d ago )


Partitioning is still virtual. You have no physical control over how the hard drive "partitions" the physical disk. While you may think you have split a drive into three distinct chunks, for better allocation and access of data your drive may be slit into even more sections that are then linked together by address in the partition table.

RAID is a whole different animal, but for the most part the same, just with more physical disks. All this means is that there are more platters to put data. Now if any chunk of a RAID in a non-mirror/non-parity setup is removed the you have "mostly" garbage. However there is software/hardware out there that can reconstruct large chunks of data from incomplete RAIDs.

Also, if you overwrite data even in a RAID, encrypted or not, the "ghost" data can still be retrieved and reconstructed, just as in a single drive only more drives' data must be collected and reconstructed. If you say "But the data is encrypted and would appear as garbage", the partition table is not and the order of the data is still retained; even "ghosts" of the partition table can be recovered, so if it changes you could to some extent reconstruct that even.

The only way to completely have something unrecoverable while having a usable drive is to overwrite it numerous times. Again though, due to hard drives being Random Access Devices, you can only ensure something is erased by overwriting the ENTIRE disk (not just the partition).

Also, if Hotz encrypted his data a simple court order would force him to remove his encryption or hand over the password used for the encryption on top of only raising further suspicion of his actions. Kinda goes to the old saying "If you aren't guilty, then what have you got to hide."

Remember there is a reason data recovery is not cheap, because the REAL tools work very well and are very expensive. Outside of physically destroying the drive or mutli-pass erasure (which takes FOREVER), nothing is out of the realm of what can be recovered.

+ Show (10) more repliesLast reply 2808d ago
diehardgamer10002809d ago

oh im sorry why do u hope he deleted the stuff,i don get u hate SONY tht much.

house2809d ago (Edited 2809d ago )

because hes one of the two

one. he thinks that the so called "hack" is for home brews and such when in reality its just for pirating games.

or two.
he just wants wants Sony to fail when im not sure why any one would want that for any game company

below i was going to say that but i don't like pointing fingers with out knowing... is that true btw?

edit 2:

Karooo2809d ago

hes a xbox only owner, jealous little girl

Anarki2809d ago

Loner, are you entirely sure about that... There are ways to get data back..


WOW you really know nothing about hard drive BACK DOORS.

DongHungLong2809d ago

He isn't legally allowed to delete anything as its evidence tampering since the minute he was served it was considered evidence. Secondly he can complete get rid of the data... If its written over its almost impossible to recover. And it only gets harder from there the more it is written over. The government doesn't have programs that can create data from nowhere. There are several programs that write junk datafiles that completely fill your empty space. After 5 or 6 writes the chances of finding even a small part of anything that was there is next to none.

Zinc2809d ago (Edited 2809d ago )

If he removed the data before they even filed the initial court documents, it's not evidence tampering. If he was smart (and he is, let's be honest here, in the common usage of the word) he would have taken those steps before this went down, because this is not the first time he has been through this sort of rodeo.

If that's the case, he would have done nothing illegal - with regard to the erasing - because, this is not a criminal case, it's a civil one.

nycrekid2809d ago

I think you guys aare giving Geohotz too much credit. he is bright year but he isn't too smart. his age is showing. His has gotten in the way.

If he was really smart he would have just kept his mouth shut and go about this business without declaring war on Sony by not only releasing the keys, but also bragging about it.

Idiot if you ask me. you gotta know when you pick your fights man

Scotland-Tha-Brave2809d ago

why would you hope that geohot cleared his hard drive? i hope the cunt didnt so sony can bust him.

Holeran2809d ago

So now we know Loner is a piece of dirt hacker also. Shut yer stinking pie hole, theif.

madpuppy2809d ago

He probably has hot swap hard drive trays with multiple Operating systems and files on them, It's not like Hard drives are always bolted inside the case anymore.

harrisk9542809d ago

If he erased the hard drive or in any way altered it to prevent the inspection, he would be in contempt of Court. Then, his problems would go from facing a civil lawsuit with money damages (which he could avoid by going bankrupt) to a criminal offense and possible jail time.

Xander7562809d ago

He was told that he wasn't allowed to do that though so that would be committing a felony.

Scary692809d ago (Edited 2809d ago )

Sony sure wiped that smirk off his face, I hope Geo has money too pay all these attorney fees coming his way.

bailoutbenny2809d ago

GeoHot doesn't even need to erase anything.

If he was using TrueCrypt, he could have a hidden volume that should be undetectable.

The 5th Amendment prevents him from being compelled to reveal any passwords. He could just give Sony the encrypted drives and tell them to have fun.

If he wanted to erase data, there are plenty of file shredders available that do secure deletions. He could even use a disk wiper to just clean up the free space on his drive, giving the appearance of not having deleted anything.

He could also have done all of his work on removable drives, which it is very difficult to prove they even exist and that he is the owner.

There are many ways to attack this problem from GeoHot's perspective.

uckitsay2809d ago

That would be funny though and a little ironic if Sony couldn't break his encryption