New hack runs homebrew code from DVD-R on unmodified PlayStation 2

A demo from CTurt shows an SNES emulator running on a PS2 from a burned DVD-R.

Nearly 20 years after its initial release, a hacker has found a way to run homebrew software on an unmodified PlayStation 2 using nothing but a carefully burned DVD-ROM.

Previous efforts to hack the PS2 relied on internal modifications, external hardware (like pre-hacked memory cards and hard drives), or errors found only on very specific models of the system. The newly discovered FreeDVDBoot differs from this previous work by exploiting an error in the console’s DVD video player to create a fully software-based method for running arbitrary code on the system.

Security researcher CTurt laid out the FreeDVDBoot discovery and method in detail in a blog post this weekend. By decrypting and analyzing the code used for the PS2’s DVD player, CTurt found a function that expects a 16-bit string from a properly formatted DVD but will actually easily accept over 1.5 megabytes from a malicious source.

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