Sony's new PlayStation 3 ad campaign slogan, "It only does everything," is coming closer to literal truth: Members of our nation's Immigration and Customs Enforcement Cyber Crimes Center are using the PlayStation 3 to crack the passwords of child pornographers.
"Bad guys are encrypting their stuff now, so we need a methodology of hacking on that to try to break passwords," Claude E. Davenport, a senior special agent at the ICE said. "The Playstation 3 - its processing component - is perfect for large-scale library attacks."
ICE's networked Playstation 3s can process 4 million passwords per second, and they're pretty cheap compared to a similarly powerful PCs. On average, ICE pays $300 for the PS3s they find on eBay, as opposed to the $8,000 rigs they used before. The organization is in the market for 40 more PlayStation 3 machines to add to the 20 they already use.
"But, my 360 wants to help put child predators in jail too! WTH?" You may be saying. Sorry: According to ICE, other game systems offer the computing power, but not the adaptability of the PlayStation 3. You can install Linux on a PlayStation 3, but you can't on a 360, so, for now, it's going to be PS3 all the way for ICE. The PlayStation 3 Slim doesn't work either. "The newer PS3s have been restricted, locked down, so you can't put Linux on them," Condon explained.
As for the most important question of all: Does ICE game with the machines when they are not busy cracking passwords? Nope. There aren't even controllers attached.