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Morning Hangover: What Does Sony Need To Do To Earn Back Your Trust?

The PlayStation Network has been down for over a week and your credit card information and personal information may be in the hands of hackers. Sony has said that they're investigating the issue and trying to make everything okay again, but is that enough? When Microsoft was hit in 2007 with Xbox Live issues they ended up giving everyone the downloadable title Undertow for free. How far is Sony going to have to go to earn back your trust?

playstation network psn logoThe PlayStation Network being down has lead to a ton of rumors and speculation, and one of the main targets of suspicion yesterday, before it was revealed that a security breach was behind the outage, were the creators of the PS3 firmware replacement program called Rebug.

Rebug is geared toward adding the functions of a PS3 devkit to a retail console without losing retail features. Many speculated on the internet that security breaches enabled by modifying Rebug could have resulted in the PlayStation Network being taken offline by Sony. 

In light of the real reasons for the Network being taken down, I asked the Rebug Team, creators of the software, whether the software could be used to steal users' credit card data or other personal info. "NO. NO. NO." They responded (via email). "Thanks to irresponsible media outlets and scene members a few different rumours have been started that have no truth."

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PSN Accounts Hacked: How to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

The news of the PlayStation Network's security breach has reached Capitol Hill. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut has written a public letter to the President and CEO of Sony demanding answers in regards to the theft of personal information and more specifically the company's failure to notify its users of the security breach. "I am troubled by the failure of Sony to immediately notify affected customers of the breach and to extend adequate financial data security protections," he wrote.

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Microsoft Xbox Live Team Comments On Sony PlayStation Network Security Breach

While the PlayStation Network security breach is sending waves across the video game industry, gamers are inevitably going to worry about other gaming networks. Is your data safe anywhere? While it's probably true that nothing will ever be 100% safe from tampering, other services are undoubtedly going over their security right now in the wake of Sony's incident.

If you're worrying about Xbox Live, Microsoft isn't. They're staying on schedule, in the midst of promotions, with large groups of gamers beta testing some planned system updates. We contacted Microsoft's Xbox Live team and a spokesperson told us:

“It’s business as usual with our previously planned Xbox LIVE promotions and programming. Other than that we have no comment.”

Of course, that "no comment" portion is always the most tantalizing part of the statement. We don't know if Microsoft has come under their own series of attacks, or if they are making behind the scenes changes, but you can be assured that they are paying attention to the situation.

PSN Accounts Hacked: How to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

Sony has confirmed that the recent attack on the PlayStation Network has resulted in the accessing of untold numbers of user accounts and the personal information associated with those accounts. Sony has yet to identify how many accounts were compromised, and while “there is no evidence at this time that credit card data was taken," Sony admited that "we cannot rule out the possibility.” So for the sake of assuming the worst and hoping for the best, here’s a handy guide for what your next course of action should be.

According to its official statement released today, Sony identified that the following information was made vulnerable during the attack window of April 17-19:

  • Name, address (city, state, zip), country, email address, birthdate, PlayStation Network/Qriocity password and login, and handle/PSN online ID.
  • It is also possible that your profile data, including purchase history and billing address (city, state, zip), and your PlayStation Network/Qriocity password security answers may have been obtained.

Now, while a credit card number is not required to set up a PSN account, the information listed above could be used to access bank accounts, so even if you didn’t attach a credit card number to your account, you’re still not entirely free and clear. For now though, just let’s just say your credit card info (minus the security code, per Sony’s statement) and personal data have been compromised. What now?

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Sony Online Entertainment Apparently Unaffected by PSN Data Leak

UPDATE: SOE has clarified that "SOE's systems and databases are separate from PSN's."

Sony Online Entertainment, a division of Sony that develops both online and console titles, is reporting that their data is safe from the recent attack and subsequent data leak the PSN network is experiencing. Last week, SOE reported that their servers had been compromised in the same attack that shuttered the PSN network.

In a statement issued on their forums today around 1:15 PM (PST) by Director Global Community Relations Linda Carlson on their community forums, SOE said:

"We wanted to update you on the status of our examination of the SOE system intrusion we announced last week. We have been conducting a thorough investigation and, to the best of our knowledge, no customer personal information got out to any unauthorized person or persons. We are continuing that investigation and monitoring the situation carefully; should the situation change, we will -- of course -- promptly notify you."

Responsible for games on the PS3 like DC Universe Online, Free Realms, and Magic: The Gathering Tactics, SOE is also responsible for handling several extremely popular PopCap ports like Plants vs. Zombies and Bejeweled 2.

While it is unclear how deep this PSN leak goes, for now, SOE users can breath a sign of relief.

PSN Outage And Breach Has Nothing To Do With Steam

Sony's continued PSN outage and now massive security breach had some suspicious timing in regards to Portal 2, as the game was the first to allow cross-platform play and data communication between the PlayStation 3 and PCs/Macs. That had us wondering if somehow Steam might have accidentally opened access on the PSN that hackers could exploit. 

But fear not, as neither Valve nor Steam had anything to do with the network intrusion. We spoke with Valve's Doug Lombardi, vice-president of marketing, and he told us:

"No. Steam has nothing to do with the PSN outage."

Needless to say, Steam is probably as unhappy as we are that the service is down, denying millions of Portal 2 PSN players the opportunity to co-op or sync their game saves with the Steam cloud. 

PSNUPDATED 4.28.2011

As I'm sure you know, the PlayStation Network has been down for over a week, and Sony today revealed the reason for the outage. There has been a security breach, and user information has been obtained by an unauthorized person.

Below please find our answers to questions you may have about what this means to you, the end user:

Whose information has been stolen? 

Assume your data has been taken. Sony has not revealed how many of their estimated 70 million accounts have been compromised, so it's impossible to say for sure, but shutting down the entire PlayStation Network suggests the security breach is large. Also, the company has sent out email to every account holder about the situation.

What information has been stolen?

According to Sony, your name, address (city, state, zip), country, email address, birthdate, PlayStation Network/Qriocity password and login, and handle/PSN online ID. Additionally, Sony advises that your credit card number (excluding security code) and expiration date may have been obtained.

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PS3 Security Questions

If you have a credit card attached to your Playstation Network (PSN) account, you could potentially be at a serious risk; we've found out that the unauthorized person who has possibly obtained your personal data also has access to a few security questions that are commonly asked by most banks to confirm your identity. Meaning, it's very possible that your identity may be stolen due to the ongoing Playstation Network issues.

Questions like "What's your mother's maiden name?" or "Where were you born?" are some of the security questions that are required for you to answer to confirm your identity when signing up for or signing in to a bank account, so if the hacker now has access to your credit card number, address, name, e-mail address, and birth date that you have to enter when creating your PSN account, then they could potentailly have access to your security question answers as well.

What this means is that you should absolutely not take this lightly because there's a definite possibility someone may try to steal your identity. If you have attached your credit card to your PSN account then read what Sony has said on what to do next if your account has been compromised and our guide on how to protect yourself from identity theft immediately. 

playstation network psn logoAccording to Sony's Sr. Director, Corporate Communications & Social Media, Patrick Seybold an "unauthorized person" has obtained PlayStation Network Users' personal information, including name, address, password, login. According to the company, it's possible that credit card data has been accessed as well. In other words, things just went from a inconvenience to a potential catastrophe for millions of PlayStation 3 users.

According to Sony:

"If you have provided your credit card data through PlayStation Network or Qriocity, out of an abundance of caution we are advising you that your credit card number (excluding security code) and expiration date may have been obtained."

Sony's full statement is under the cut.

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Sony Confirms Premium PSN Service, Details

As you're no doubt aware, the PlayStation Network has been down for nearly a week. Sony has said that the system is borked due to an "intrusion" and that repairing it is a time-consuming process, but has offered no time-frame on when it will return to life. In the absence of confirmed information on the cause of the network outage, we're left with theories and speculation. Below are a couple of the most popular theories floating around the internet:

Initial suspicion for the PSN outage fell on hacker group Anonymous. According to a source referenced by SixAxis, the PSN has fallen victim to an attack from Anonymous' "Low Orbit Ion Cannon." With its name taken from a weapon in Command and Conquer, LOiC  is similar to a Distributed Denial of Service attack, and was reportedly invented by Anonymous group members to use against the Church of Scientology.

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PlayStation NetworkAs I'm sure you're aware, the PlayStation Network is down, and has been since Wednesday night. Yesterday, Sony spokesman Satoshi Fukuoka told PC World that the company is conducting a "thorough investigation" into the problem, but that Sony has not determined whether or not customers' credit card numbers have been accessed by whomever intruded upon the PlayStation Network. As of this morning, we haven't heard of any reports of people's credit cards being accessed.

Sony did not reveal any more info on the matter, including any information on when the PlayStation Network will be back online, other than to issue a blanket statement from Sr. Director, Corporate Communications & Social Media Patrick Seybold, reading:

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UPDATE: Sony Confirms that PSN Users' Personal Information Was Obtained By An Unauthorized Party

Sony Is Using Its PlayStation Network To Build A New Online ServiceAs 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."

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Sony Confirms Premium PSN Service, Details

Sorry, PS3 gamers, The PlayStation Network is still out of commission as of this morning and what caused the outage to the PS3's online service remains unknown, leading to speculation that hacker group Anonymous is responsible.

As we reported earlier this week, the PSN went down on late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning. Sony issued a statement on Thursday on its European blog, referencing the possibility of "attacks" on the network. Then later said it could be a "day or two" until it comes back up. Suspicion immediately fell upon Anonymous, a loose affiliation of nameless hackers and internet denizens.

A few weeks ago, Anonymous "declared war" on the PlayStation Network due to the legal battle between Sony and PS3 hacker GeoHot. The case was settled, and it was presumed the "war" was called off. Perhaps not...

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PlayStation 3

The PlayStation 3’s motto is “It only does everything,” but since last night, when the entire PlayStation Network went offline for some as-yet-unknown reason, it might be more accurate to say "it only does some things." So which things can you still do with your PlayStation 3?

The PlayStation 3 Can Still…

  1. Access The Internet: Although the PlayStation Network is borked, your PS3 console should still be able to access the internet as if nothing is wrong.
  2. Play Single-Player Games: As far as I am aware, there are no single-player games that require a functioning PlayStation Network in order to work. You should still be able to play single-player games you downloaded in the the past as well.
  3. Play Local Multi-Player: This is the perfect opportunity to get a friend on your couch and re-experience the joy of couch co-op.

    Read More »

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