SOS. I just loaned my PS3 to an acquaintance of dubious integrity (for reasons of diplomacy and political correctness. Please don't ask. Long story.) Is there any way that I can determine if my unit has been tampered with (aside from examining the exterior for physical damage)? Is it possible to install self-destructing software or malware, virus, etc. on a PS3? Can my PSN account be hacked through the unauthorized use of my PS3? How can I protect my unit?
I'm not really sure if this question belongs here, but I'll try to give you an answer. It's not one you'll like, though. Generally speaking, if someone with malicious intent (and relevant skills) has physical access to your system, all bets are off and many different attacks are possible.
For example, they could replace the software with something that looks the same but sends account information to another computer, they could cause the electronics (hardware) to short-out, overheat or otherwise modify them, they could even install a tiny pinpoint camera that is very hard for you to find.
If your PSN account was already logged in, he could impersonate you online and get you banned, buy things with stored credit card details, etc.
There are many good reasons why physical access to sensitive machines should be guarded closely. 'Diplomacy and political correctness' aside, you should never give someone you don't trust access to your PC/PS3/phone/tablet/credit card/medical details/house/pacemaker. This is why we lock our doors at night.
Now, you might be being over-cautious or just feeling a bit paranoid, but if you're truly worried about the system being compromised, you should:
- Do a factory reset to ensure the software is correct
- Take your PS3 to a repair shop and ask them to check that the hardware is intact and unmodified
- Check your credit card details to ensure nothing was bought without your permission
- Check your PSN activity (I'm not sure if there's a log or something anywhere) and change your password
- Don't lend your stuff to people you don't trust!
- What can a hacker do when he has physical access to a system? on Security.StackExchange
- Why do we lock our computers on Security.StackExchange
The PlayStation 3 is meant to be secure from hackers as being able to hack it would allow people to play pirated games. Unfortunately, a few years ago a gaping wide hole in the PS3 defences was exploited to allow custom firmware to be loaded. However, since the purpose of this custom firmware is to allow playing pirated games, it's meant only to harm game publishers, not gamers yourself. It should also be fairly apparent that the console has been modified this way, as the custom firmware has no reason to try hide itself from the user.
In theory the person you lent your PS3 could have made his own custom firmware that did something malicious to specifically harm you, but this would require a fair bit of programming expertise. It also would be a lot of work, when it would be simpler to just hand you back a broken PS3 and blame you for it.
Your PSN account is a different matter. If you saved your password on the machine than he could used your account to buy games or do something that would get your account banned. He probably can't have changed your password without knowing the password, but you can find that out soon enough. If you didn't remember to erase your password from the machine before you gave it to him, you should log on to Sony's website and change it there.
One that thing in particular can get your PSN account banned is having custom firmware installed on it. When you get the PS3 back you should check the firmware version (Settings -> System Settings -> System Information), and see if it says something like "Version 4.65 CFW". Any letters after the version number indicates that it's using custom firmware, if there are no letters (eg. "Version 4.66") then it's probably still using Sony's official firmware. If you find custom firmware on it, you should be able to restore the official firmware through the standard methods.
Other than that the only things he can do should be fairly obvious. He can delete any saved games you have on the console, along with any music, videos or pictures you may have copied to it. If he has access to your PSN account he can impersonate you and make you look bad to anyone you know online.
Any sort physical hardware hacking would be impractical. He'd have to be very knowledgeable about electronics, and it would be huge amount of work and a significant expense to do anything more harmful or more sophisticated than smashing it with a hammer.