The Playstation Vita was out more than a year ago worldwide, and we have yet to see a native hack publicly released. I can see several reasons for that and will try to describe them here.

First, it is essential to understand that the Vita not being hacked “yet” is not an exception. Despite growing rumors, Nintendo’s 3DS has been so far following the same path (the NDS mode of the 3DS is hackable, just like the PSP emulator of the PS Vita is regularly hacked through game vulnerabilities); and it took hackers roughly 4 years to come up with what the general audience consider as the first PS3 jailbreak, back in 2010.

Technical issues

What this shows is that computer manufacturers in general, and Sony in particular with its playstation brand, have stepped up their game in terms of security. Modern programming languages make buffer overflow, if not entirely a vulnerability of the past, at least more difficult to achieve, while modern Operating Systems have increased counter-hack measures. In general these security measures are here for the good of the end-user (you!), to avoid being hacked and getting important information stolen or your computer used as a zombie in a massive Chinese DDoS against your own bank

In the case of the Vita this has the side benefit of allowing Sony to guarantee their hardware stays as locked as possible. As a matter of fact, I would claim that Sony has no interest in their customers’ security in general (did we mention some of your credentials on the PSP are stored in plain text?), and that their only motivation for keeping up to date with latest security measures is to guarantee their business doesn’t get threatened. After all, there only ever was one virus on the PSP in its 7 years of existence.

But I digress. Independently of the motives, the fact is that Sony’s consoles are much more secure than they used to be. The Vita is believed to run an OS based on FreeBSD, and has the security that comes with it, such as a better permissions system than the PSP used to have (which will avoid compromising the entire system if someone ever managed to take control of a specific app). Most likely, the CPU itself embeds security that would prevent our typical user/kernel psp exploits modus operandi. Loading binaries wherever we want in ram is prevented by things such as the NX bit