Sony inoculates the PlayStation 3

With networking a major feature of modern game consoles, the first tools for game system security are inevitably beginning to appear.

Trend Micro is the first to throw its hat into the ring, with a security suite released a week ago as part of a PS3 system upgrade. Trend Micro Web Security for PS3 checks the reputation and security of unknown sites, and has user-defined filters to block certain other types of sites. It is touted as a family product, with password-enabled free browsing.

While the service is currently free and will remain so until April 30, 2008, it will switch to a pay service at a later, and not yet determined, date.

With only one finished product available, the market for game console security software is still in infancy. One has to wonder, though, how much more developed this market would be if Microsoft had a browser in place on its Xbox 360 systems.

Security was a main reason behind Microsoft's exclusion of Web browsing capabilities when Xbox Live launched in 2002. Today, after five years have passed, the service's subscription base reportedly exceeds 7.1 million.

That's a huge vulnerability, so perhaps opening Xbox 360 to the Web isn't such a good idea yet, especially when you consider that remotely exploitable security holes have existed since the earliest Web-enabled consoles.

In 2000, Sega's Dreamcast allowed malicious packets to be sent during online gameplay, crashing the recipient's machine. If sent during a game save, the results were often severe. Imagine a full-scale DDOS attack on millions of unsuspecting Xbox 360s.

Nintendo's WiiConnect24 and Internet Channel, and its increasing catalog of Wi-Fi games; plus Sony's Home, XMB browser, and its repertoire of over 40 titles being played online daily, all now are open doors susceptible to exploit.

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