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PS3 hacker joins Google to work on security project

GeoHotz is employed to prevent spying through software bugs

The hacker who became notorious for breaking open the PS3's anti-piracy measures has been hired by Google to work on its latest security project.

George Hotz, better known by his online alias GeoHot, is joining the technology firm's Project Zero initiative, which is designed to prevent computer users from being spied on via bugs in software.

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"You should be able to use the web without fear that a criminal or state-sponsored actor is exploiting software bugs to infect your computer, steal secrets or monitor your communications," Google researcher Chris Evans said on the Project Zero blog.

"Yet in sophisticated attacks, we see the use of 'zero-day' vulnerabilities to target, for example, human rights activists or to conduct industrial espionage. This needs to stop. We think more can be done to tackle this problem."

Hotz will join a team dedicated to "improving the security of any software depended upon by large numbers of people, paying careful attention to the techniques, targets and motivations of attackers".

Project Zero will locate vulnerabilities in software and report bugs to the software developers. "Once the bug report becomes public (typically once a patch is available), you'll be able to monitor vendor time-to-fix performance, see any discussion about exploitability, and view historical exploits and crash traces," Evans explains.

Hotz gained notoriety in January 2011 after he decrypted the PS3 'root key' and posted it onto the internet for everyone to work with. Sony took Hotz to court and the case was settled in April 2011, with Hotz agreeing to a permanent injunction preventing him from hacking any Sony products again.

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