Opinion: How PS5 4.03 is becoming the “golden” firmware for hackers

All PS5 Firmwares between 3.00 and 4.51 included are hackable. And a lot of progress is being made on all fronts for the PS5 to eventually get Homebrew support on all these firmwares. But in these (still) early days of PS5 hacking, one firmware seems to be getting the good stuff first: 4.03.

Also, it truly helps if your PS4 is a Disc Edition rather than a Digital one. But we knew that already.

Digital Edition vs Disc Edition PS5


Whether you’re into hacking or not, the PS5 Digital Edition holds much less value than the Disc Edition. As a gamer, I find it slightly surprising, considering most PS4 and PS5 games are available on the PSN, but in practice, just looking at the second hand market for PS5s, it is clear that Digital Edition consoles quickly lose value compared to the Disc Edition (with a much larger price gap than sold new). In other words: gamers consider the PS5 digital edition to be worth much less than what Sony wants us to believe.

As someone interested in PS5 hacking, the attraction for the Disc PS5 is much less surprising: a lot of the tools and hacks available to tinkerers for the PS5 happen to require a Disc edition. First, of course, there was the BD-JB exploit, which, relying on the Blu-Ray APIs of the console, of course required a disc drive. That exploit has been a few steps ahead of its Webkit counterpart for some time, but the gap has been closing recently.

It doesn’t stop here of course: With flatz announcing that he achieved his Hypervisor exploit with a PS4 Savegame entry point, it’s becoming clear that PS4 gamesave exploits could become a great attack vector on PS5, and those will most likely require discs: unless you’ve activated it before hacking, your PS5 cannot easily download your PS4 games from the PSN, so you’ll need a disc version. Flatz’s hack doesn’t require a PS4 game, and any other entry point could do, but people are worried of missing out if anything gets eventually released. More importantly, it’s yet another example that without a disc drive on your PS5, you’re basically removing an entire category of hack entry points for yourself.

In a similar fashion, recent releases such as Illusion‘s 60FPS PS5 patches require you to have a legit copy of the games you intend to patch. Here again, unless your PS5 was activated prior to hacking it, it won’t be able to download or activate PSN content, so you’ll have to use Disc-based versions of the games.

It’s very likely the Digital Edition of the PS5 will bridge the gap with the Disc Edition when it comes to hacking, but for now there are a lot of cool things that cannot be done with a Digital Edition.

Firmware 4.03: The new king for PS5 tinkering

In parallel to this Digital vs Disc issue, a Firmware has been slowly rising as the “best” Firmware to be on, when it comes to PS5 hacking: Firmware 4.03

Important Disclaimer: Now don’t get me wrong here. Do not update your hackable PS5 to firmware 4.03! The lower your firmware, the more valuable it theoretically is for hacking purposes. It is believed firmware 2.50 in particular might have critical vulnerabilities in the Hypervisor that could have been patched in 3.xx. And that’s just one of the things we know for now. There could be more that gets discovered on early PS5 Firmwares.

With the disclaimer above in mind, it is frustrating currently to own a 3.xx hackable PS5 (and probably even more frustrating if your console is on 1.xx or 2.xx, honestly). A lot of the tools are currently restricted to 4.03, generally because the hackers developing them are on 4.03 (and porting them can sometimes be a nightmare).

One big example is Sleirsgoevy‘s self-dumper, and associated debugger Prosper0gdb, filled to the brim with 4.03 specific offsets and function calls. As to how to port these to other firmwares, people have been scratching their heads: a lot of these offsets land in XOM (eXecute Only Memory), meaning it’s not possible to disassemble these specific regions of the code to look for Firmware specific offsets. Sleirsgoevy did hint he had additional help to do that, and although it would be possible to port Propser0gdb to other firmwares, he has said it is planned but not a priority.

To summarize, the only public tool to dump decrypted ELF files and Libraries, ps5-self-dumper, only runs on 4.03 for now. And so does the cool debugger tool that comes with it.

And although Propser0gdb is one of the main examples, it is not the only one. Some of the samples in the PS5SDK only have 4.03 offsets integrated, meaning they’ll only work on that firmware for now. All of this is temporary, and anybody is free to try and port those offsets, but in the current state, 4.03 owners have it better than the rest.

Several trusted devs on the scene are also running on 4.03. Illusion for example has indicated on their profile on the PS5 Discord server that they’re running on 4.03, so is SpecterDev.


Don’t get me wrong, it is clear the devs are doing everything they can to make their tools compatible with as many firmwares as possible (not only out of the kindness of their heart, but also because code that’s compatible with multiple firmwares is a sign that you’re doing the “right” thing, programmatically speaking. This means something that will be easier to maintain and update down the road). But sometimes, when you have to get something “quick and dirty” working first, you’ll want something that works on the machine you’re testing with.

Currently, this means if you’re on the same firmware as what these tools were tested on or programmed for, you’ll have a better time than most of us. More examples of this come out every day, such as a NAND dumper released today that happens to be slightly broken on 3.xx. Just a matter of time before this gets fixed, but you get the idea. (It’s also a good time to remind everyone that you shouldn’t run random ELF files on your hacked PS5, you do have an actual risk of bricking the console, and there certainly aren’t tools that are ready at the time being to help you if that happens)

So Wololo, I’m updating to 4.03, right?

Does it mean I recommend you upgrade to 4.03? Absolutely not, read the disclaimer above, again. Eventually, everything that matters will work on all hackable firmwares. Even if in these still early days of exploration and experimentation, Firmware 4.03 seems to be the golden one, what you can do with it at the moment doesn’t justify updating from a lower firmware, in particular if you’re on 1.xx or 2.xx.