Sony has come out and publicly apologised for the PSN debacle, but is this enough? And what will be the long reaching impact of this PR disaster? We hash out the details with Nick Broughall from Gizmodo.
MARK: So Nick, Sony has come out, bowed its heads in collective shame and promised us some stuff in return for the whole PSN breach debacle – what are your thoughts on the situation? Has Sony done enough to help repair some of the damage done by this PR disaster?
NICK: Let's face it, Sony have come out and done the only thing they could possibly do short of committing Seppuku - apologised to consumers like a child caught with the remains of your limited edition original Star Wars X-Wing model. Whether that's enough to undo the damage this disaster has caused for them, only time will tell, but my gut instinct is that with time, the wounds will mostly heal. What do you think?
MARK: I agree. What has been interesting to me is that, in the mainstream media at least, this has been a big enough story for journos to continue the trail all the way to its conclusion – meaning that while the mums and pops got their fill of the ‘disaster’ headlines, they seem to be sticking around long enough to see the conclusion. This is good for Sony's reputation.
I’m not a security expert by any manner of means, but from speaking to a few leaders in the field, and reading quite a bit, what I’m hearing is that Sony, while not entirely innocent in this whole fiasco, has done a fairly good job of following protocol after the event. Consumers were, quite rightly, up in arms about the delay and the initial lack of information, but most experts believe that Sony was about as upfront as it could have been about the situation.
I think the public apology was a good step forward. Sure, people are still angry about the whole fiasco, and quite rightly, but I expect that to fade in time.
How about you Nick, would you be happy to supply Sony with your Credit Card details now?
NICK: You know, when Sony came out and confessed that the hackers may have accessed credit card details, despite there being no indication that they did, I quietly sat back and watched the sudden boom of media reports urging PSN customers to cancel credit cards "just in case". Now we've since discovered that the CC information was all encrypted and it doesn't look like the hackers accessed it anyway, a lot of complacent people like myself can rest easy that they won't see thousands of dollars charged to their accounts.
For me, the PSN security breach wasn't so much about not being able to play games online or even having my credit card details potentially compromised - it's more an indication of how much inherent risk there is in putting our information in the cloud. In recent weeks we've seen Sony, Amazon and even our US cousins at Gawker hacked, with user details made publicly available by nefarious types. Yet despite these security breaches, we're putting more and more information about ourselves into the internet, whether it be via our Facebook/Twitter accounts or through third party services like the PSN. And no matter how bad the breach, I can't see that overall trend changing in the future. We're moving to a world where all our information is stored on a server somewhere outside of our control. And if you want to engage with the world through the wonders of the internet, you're going to need to give over that information willingly.
The question now is how corporations like Sony can step up to ensure that it takes the security of its customers seriously. And thankfully it looks like security is becoming a priority for the Japanese giant. Would you agree?
MARK: I don’t really know that Sony has a choice now! The strength of their brand is dependent on how they respond to this crisis and, so far at least, Sony is making the correct noises. It now has to focus on putting that rhetoric into action. In terms of the broader situation, the most positive thing to come from this whole situation is this: every single company holding credit card details has just received a giant, Simpsons-style boot up the arse. They’re now very aware of how important security is when it comes to the personal details of their customers. Sony has been the unfortunate sacrificial lamb here, but best believe that Microsoft, Apple, and every other company out there has been taking a good, long hard look at their security measures.
NICK: You're right - I'm almost willing to forgive Sony purely on the basis that they've become the poster child for what can go wrong, but I doubt that same forgiveness can be passed on to any other companies that experience the same fate in the future.
In any case, I think that what Sony needs to do now is publicly preach caution to its customers - we're all overwhelmed by spam on a daily basis, but chances are that's going to get a lot worse in the near future, given the amount of information that was hacked...
MARK: In a strange way, the whole situation has sort of forced me to re-evaluate the brash, devil-may-care attitude I have with my personal details online. Facebook, paypal, online banking, Xbox LIVE, PSN, iOS – a lot of places out there have a lot of information stored about me, personally. This whole incident has me questioning exactly what I divulge, and where. I think, in the long term, that’s probably a good thing.
NICK: I'm the same, but it's one hell of a way to discover just how much information we willingly share with giant, faceless corporations...