As of this morning, the PlayStation Network is still not functioning. According to Sony, the PSN was taken down by the company due to an "external intrusion," in other words, you can't play your PlayStation 3 online because someone apparently either tried to, or was successful at, accessing the PlayStation Network unauthorized. There is no update on when we can expect the PSN to be back up.
Here's the official statement from Sony's senior director of corporate communications and social media, Patrick Seybold:
"An external intrusion on our system has affected our PlayStation Network and Qriocity services. In order to conduct a thorough investigation and to verify the smooth and secure operation of our network services going forward, we turned off PlayStation Network & Qriocity services on the evening of Wednesday, April 20th. Providing quality entertainment services to our customers and partners is our utmost priority. We are doing all we can to resolve this situation quickly, and we once again thank you for your patience. We will continue to update you promptly as we have additional information to share."
While people claiming to represent hacking group Anonymous have both implicitly taken responsibility for the outage on their facebook page and denied having any involvement on their website, right now, there's no way of telling who is behind the intrusion.
It's possible that the PSN Outage that happened on April 4, for which Anonymous did take responsibility, is the real culprit here. Sony's response to the DDoS attack of a few weeks ago may have been to fight against future DDoS attacks by updating their network, and maybe part of that investigation and update involves shutting down the PSN for maintenance.
That possibility fits in perfectly with the most recent statement the company has issued, particularly this sentence:
"we turned off PlayStation Network & Qriocity services on the evening of Wednesday, April 20th."
Note the "we turned off" part of that sentence. Sony seems to be making it clear that no one "took down" the PSN but Sony itself, which, if we take Sony at their word, could imply this was not a DDoS attack, and thus, probably not the work of Anonymous, as a collective. It could be individual "members" of Anonymous, though, working independently, as Anonymous itself has said.
In a sense, the best case scenario is that Anonymous is behind the outage. In the past, when Anonymous targeted a site or network, they generally used a Distributed Denial of Service attack -- in other words, orchestrating networks of computers to "hit" servers with info requests all at once. The service is then overloaded and goes down -- bam, network offline temporarily. Think of it as a brute force attack with a sledgehammer. It kills the network, but in a sense doesn't "hack" it. No unauthorized access is obtained.
While I'm sure Sony has a ton of encryption and security processes in place to prevent anyone from causing real damage to their network and protect users' information, even the possibility of a more sophisticated, targeted hack of the PSN is troubling. After all, Anonymous members having a laugh at the expense of gamers and Sony is an inconvenience and a pain, but professional, criminal hackers could potentially cause much more serious problems. Let's hope it's nothing of that sort.
The bottom line for users: The PlayStation Network is down. We don't know why. Sorry for the bad news, but there's no word now on when the PSN will be back up.
Stay tuned to G4tv.com for updates on this story as they develop.