Correction: 8/28/2019, 1:30 p.m. ET: After the publication of this story, the Vita hacker in question now says that the h-encore² hack in fact still works with the 3.72 Vita firmware. Kotaku apologizes the error. The original story is below.
Less than a day after a new exploit for jailbreaking the Vita was discovered, Sony has already released a new firmware update to safeguard its sunsetting handheld.
“Surprise! h-encore² released for PS Vita firmware 3.71,” Andy Nguyen, a Vita hacker behind the recent Trinity Exploit for jailbreaking the most up-to-date versions of the handheld, announced on Monday. Unlike the Trinity Exploit, which required using a PSP game to hack the Vita, h-encore² is a native hack, meaning it can be done directly on the system. And while some hacks on work on Vitas running older software, h-encore² was designed to work on any firmware version between 3.65 and 3.71, the most recent one.
As if on cue, Sony announced firmware update 3.72 today.
“Welp, Sony doesn’t want to see us having fun,” Nguyen posted on Twitter today. “They just released FW 3.72 which blacklisted the userland exploit.” Like the previous two firmware updates, 3.72 doesn’t do anything more specific than “improves system performance.” Back when the original Trinity Exploit was revealed by Nguyen in early May, Sony didn’t get around to patching it out until mid-July with firmware 3.71. Given how fast Sony responded this time, it’s possible the company was already aware of the vulnerability of which h-encore² takes advantage.
Sony did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
While hacking the Vita can be used to pirate games, it can also be used for benign things like emulating old games, running third-party programs, overclocking, and even backing up save data without needing to rely on Sony’s extremely overpriced, proprietary Vita memory cards.
And for all intents and purposes, Vita has also been unofficially retired, leaving some people in the homebrew community scratching their heads about why Sony has seemingly redoubled its efforts to safeguard it. The Vita no longer gets new monthly PlayStation Plus games, and production of new game cartridges ended earlier this year. “I need a movie about the 4 guys at Sony who still have to work on the Vita in friggin 2019,” wrote one person on Twitter.
But Nguyen isn’t giving up either. The hacker recently put out a tutorial for finding new exploits and has invited people to join him in discovering a way to break firmware 3.72 as well.