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PS3, Linux Used to Catch Child Pornographers

Over the past week, most PlayStation 3 consoles have been chugging along playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. But all the while, some other PS3 consoles have been helping to stop child predators.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Cyber Crimes Center, also known as C3, is now using the computational power of the PlayStation 3 to crack the computer passwords of suspected child pornographers.

"Bad guys are encrypting their stuff now, so we need a methodology of hacking on that to try to break passwords," said Claude E. Davenport, a senior special agent at C3. "The Playstation 3 - its processing component - is perfect for large-scale library attacks."

Prior to the PS3, the team was using a Tableau/Dell server combination that cost more than $8000. Clearly a group of networked PS3s is far more cost effective.

Naturally, cracking a child predator's password requires software that's more specialized than what's found on the PlayStation Store. C3 uses Linux on the PlayStation 3 to run its cracking software. Sadly, the newer PS3 Slims do not support the installation of Linux, so the enforcement body is now looking to buy 40 more original PS3s to add to the 20 it already has.

Might these agents be playing a skirmish round on their breaks, or perhaps pull a Wii Bowling drug bust event? Not likely.

"There's no controllers hooked up," Davenport said.