Has there ever been a virus or malware on a console?

Emulation of old consoles and arcades.

Has there ever been a virus or malware on a console?

Postby Kerr Avon » 2013-10-12 @ 14:38

Owing to the (to me inexplicable) behaviour of virus/malware writers* we have to waste PC (and our own) time and resources on running anti-virus/malware killers. Fortunately there are some great free ones (I use Avast!, and recommend it to anyone), but I have wondered in the past if there were ever any viruses released for consoles. As far as I can see, up until the sixth generation (N64, Playstation, Saturn, etc) this would have been impossible, as the games were on un-writable (or rather, un-corruptable by malicious code) media such as cartridge or CD-ROM.

But when the original XBox came out, it had a hard-drive that contained the operating system, plus the XBox was (as far as I know) the first console to really have a large home-brew scene. So as far as I could see, there was a danger that some ****er could code a virus that would attach itself to an XBox homebrew program (be it an emulator, XBMC, or whatever) and wipe the hard drive when the program is run. Thankfully that never happened (I've been an XBox owner for about ten years now (the shop I bought my XBox from modded it whilst I waited, as I partly wanted it for MAME) and a regular at xbox-scene.com, and if such a virus/trojan did exist then I'm sure I would have read about it) and I've run dozens of XBox homebrew programs (my XBox is still my main emulation machine) with no problem.

But now, especially, with both the XBox 360 and PS3 having hard-drives and downloadable games, it does make me wonder if (or when) a console will be attacked by a virus. Modern consoles are picking up the bad side of PCs (games released untested and with bugs since the companies can release a patch later, no split-screen multiplayer, etc) and the threat of malware might one day be of concern to console only gamers too.





* I can understand people who write malware that steals your credit card information. I certainly don't support it, I hasten to add, but at least I can understand what they get out of it. But what does someone who writes a virus that just corrupts your games and data, or wipes the hard drive, get out of it? Just the knowledge that later on, some (innocent) users are going to lose their data and be put to the time and effort of trying to rebuild what they've lost? It baffles me.
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Re: Has there ever been a virus or malware on a console?

Postby Joey_sw » 2013-10-12 @ 15:25

as for now, its less likely to happens.
most homebrew can only access limited capability of the xbox or playstation and most likely being sandboxed during execution/running,
to have more acccess previledge the program need to be digitally certified by Microsoft or Sony.

Unless on event where certificate' private-key are leaked, those certification are costly process and the program will have to be checked rigorously by Microsoft or Sony.
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Re: Has there ever been a virus or malware on a console?

Postby keropi » 2013-10-12 @ 15:28

All I have heard is malware programs that erase the nand of hacked 360s that can run unsigned code. The console is a brick until you re-write the nand.
In a non-hacked console that is impossible since you need to use signed code, something that cannot be done atm.
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Re: Has there ever been a virus or malware on a console?

Postby Kerr Avon » 2013-10-12 @ 16:49

Joey_sw wrote:as for now, its less likely to happens.
most homebrew can only access limited capability of the xbox or playstation and most likely being sandboxed during execution/running,
to have more acccess previledge the program need to be digitally certified by Microsoft or Sony.

Unless on event where certificate' private-key are leaked, those certification are costly process and the program will have to be checked rigorously by Microsoft or Sony.


That doesn't apply to PS2 or XBox 1 (XBox 1 as in the original XBox, not the stupidly named upcoming XBox One) does it? As far as I know, homebrew for those consoles can use all hardware resources. My XBox 1 is hard modded (mod chip), but my PS2 is only soft-modded (which is great, as it allows you to load your PS2 games from an internal hard drive, which is much faster than from DVD and doesn't give wear and tear to the DVD drive).



keropi wrote:All I have heard is malware programs that erase the nand of hacked 360s that can run unsigned code. The console is a brick until you re-write the nand.
In a non-hacked console that is impossible since you need to use signed code, something that cannot be done atm.


Weren't the codes needed to sign program files discovered by PS3 hackers some time back? I've not heard anything about that for ages, though.

BTW, who wrote the programs that erase the nand (what is that, like firmware?), is that known, or suspected? I suppose some might suspect Microsoft, though more likely it's the same type of vandals who write PC malware.
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Re: Has there ever been a virus or malware on a console?

Postby leileilol » 2013-10-13 @ 00:32

There was that faulty PS3 BIOS update that bricked a short while back.
Voodoo2s aren't 100mhz stock
Geforce256 isn't released as a beta on New Years '99 under the Quadro brand
DOS gaming isn't a bilinear 320x200 16:10
DOS PCs aren't better than the Macintosh
DOSBox is not for running Windows 9x
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Re: Has there ever been a virus or malware on a console?

Postby sliderider » 2013-10-13 @ 14:00

There is still so much of the original XBOX that remains undocumented or else we'd have a fully working emulator by now. If we can't get a working emulator yet, I don't think the threat of a virus is very likely.

Oh, and the XBOX wasn't the first console to have a large homebrew scene. There were people coding games for the Atari 2600 for a long time already when the XBOX came out. The Atari 2600 was already well documented and the tools were widely available but other vintage consoles like the Intellivision and Colecovision had to wait a bit longer while tools were developed and the inner workings were documented more thoroughly, but they also had a strong homebrew scene by the time the XBOX came out. The biggest obstacle to homebrew on consoles is security lockouts and things like that. It was quite a while before the security on the Atari 7800 and Jaguar were bypassed and new games could be released. Right now, parts for making new cartridges are the big problem. Small production runs aren't economically feasible so homebrew developers usually buy used common cartridges and substitute their own ROMS and labels. This makes the games rare and expensive, though, because nobody can guarantee whether a particular game will still be in production from one day to the next. Continuous production depends on a steady stream of cartridge parts being available.
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Re: Has there ever been a virus or malware on a console?

Postby Kerr Avon » 2013-10-13 @ 15:52

sliderider wrote:There is still so much of the original XBOX that remains undocumented or else we'd have a fully working emulator by now. If we can't get a working emulator yet, I don't think the threat of a virus is very likely.

Oh, and the XBOX wasn't the first console to have a large homebrew scene. There were people coding games for the Atari 2600 for a long time already when the XBOX came out. The Atari 2600 was already well documented and the tools were widely available but other vintage consoles like the Intellivision and Colecovision had to wait a bit longer while tools were developed and the inner workings were documented more thoroughly, but they also had a strong homebrew scene by the time the XBOX came out. The biggest obstacle to homebrew on consoles is security lockouts and things like that. It was quite a while before the security on the Atari 7800 and Jaguar were bypassed and new games could be released. Right now, parts for making new cartridges are the big problem. Small production runs aren't economically feasible so homebrew developers usually buy used common cartridges and substitute their own ROMS and labels. This makes the games rare and expensive, though, because nobody can guarantee whether a particular game will still be in production from one day to the next. Continuous production depends on a steady stream of cartridge parts being available.


I am disappointed in the lack of a usable XBox 1 emulator. It doesn't effect me much personally, as I'm happy to use the XBox for it's games, but there are some real classics on the XBox that deserve the larger audience that emulation would bring. On the other hand, many of the XBox's best games are cross platform (on console or PC) so it's not a major issue, but a few XBox true exclusives, such as Unreal Championship 2 and Breakdown really do deserve a lot more recognition from the gaming world. Unreal Championship 2 is, in some ways, the best arena first person shooter (as in Quake 3, Unreal Tournament, Turok: Rage Wars, etc) ever made. And it's such a pity it was never released on the PC, as modders could have removed it's few (but annoying) faults and hopefully the game would still be massively played on-line now, if it had a PC version.

Aren't there backup-type devices (such as the Everdrive range) for almost all cartridge based machines now? But back then, how did people run homebrew games on the Atari 2600? If they were limited to stripping down old cartridges and replacing the contents with an EPROM or whatever it must have been expensive and limiting, sadly. I suppose the Dreamcast might have a good homebrew scene, since running unsigned code was so eay on it. Was it the same for the Playstation, at least if the PSX was modded?
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Re: Has there ever been a virus or malware on a console?

Postby d1stortion » 2013-10-13 @ 16:18

There is "It Might Be NES" for the Playstation, and Sony released a devkit for hobbyists in the form of Net Yaroze.
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Re: Has there ever been a virus or malware on a console?

Postby leileilol » 2013-10-13 @ 21:14

It's probably more likely to have a Xbox360 emulator than a Xbox emulator.
Voodoo2s aren't 100mhz stock
Geforce256 isn't released as a beta on New Years '99 under the Quadro brand
DOS gaming isn't a bilinear 320x200 16:10
DOS PCs aren't better than the Macintosh
DOSBox is not for running Windows 9x
SGL != Glide
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Re: Has there ever been a virus or malware on a console?

Postby BuckoA51 » 2014-4-10 @ 18:35

There were definitely some malicious custom firmware releases for PSP too, though I don't think they did much more than just brick your console.
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Re: Has there ever been a virus or malware on a console?

Postby chinny22 » 2014-4-12 @ 10:29

I've just got my original Xbox up and running again at my girlfriends place. We play Mario every now and then, but mainly It'll be used for XBMC.
I did put it on a separate network with no internet, you know just in case. but I was never going to play online games so its not going to affect me that much anyway.

re your * I remember a few years ago when a customer's receptionist PC got infected with Antivirus XP or whatever that malware was called. She asked me why did they do it? I explained for the fun of the challenge and how from a programming point of view they are really efficient programs. To which she replied They just need to get laid" Man that made me laugh, she was an very attractive blond in her mid 20's. I almost replied that's the problem, the cant get girls like you so they do this to kill time instead. :)
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Re: Has there ever been a virus or malware on a console?

Postby BuckoA51 » 2014-4-13 @ 08:52

Isn't the point of fake antivirus to get customers to buy fake antivirus licenses to clean up the fake infections and thus scam them out of money? With all the money they made on that scam I am sure they got laid... one way or another.
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