The PlayStation Network Returns; Normalcy Won't

Across North America yesterday evening, PlayStation Network returned after a 23-day total blackout. In a process spanning about seven hours, the PlayStation 3's online capabilities gradually returned state-by-state, beginning in New York and ending in Texas. As gamers rushed to message boards to verify the good news in their precincts, the news had the feel of an election night, one whose results were cheered and celebrated by all.

This is the end of a chapter, not the whole story but, for millions, it does bring closure to something that swiftly metastasized from a network hiccup to one of the largest data breaches in history. Its perpetrators were at first thought to be goofball hackers, and now are understood to be criminals with quite sophisticated means. As long as PSN remained dark with no estimate for its return, there seemed to be no limit to the bad news. Bringing back PlayStation Network removes the "What next?" dread that clung to this crisis for most of its three-week lifespan.

Sony endured more than just the worst three weeks in PlayStation's history. It faced withering criticism from the press, government officials and, of course, its own customers as it labored to restore a global online service counting some 77 million users. Assuredly this will all become a case study in areas of corporate crisis management and network security. For now, Sony deserves our gratitude and a note of congratulations. It's Sunday; let the quarterbacking resume tomorrow.

This is a watershed moment in video gaming, and not in a happy way. It reminds us that, although a service such as PSN may be the custodians of our privacy and personal information, we have chosen to share it with them. We should be mindful that there will always be determined malefactors seeking to pry that information loose. They will act. We should too.

Using separate, secure passwords, and changing them periodically-especially in accounts that contain credit card numbers or other readily exploitable information-these are either inconveniences or a responsibilities in a digital society. We're well past the days when considering what information to share and who we share it with and availing ourselves of privacy settings are choices made by excessively cautious persons. This should be mainstream prudent behaviour. As video gaming is enjoyed by millions of adolescents and young adults, it's an especially teachable moment for them, too.

PSN still has some work to do before its services are fully back to normal. PlayStation Store must return, a situation still of considerable concern to developers who sell through it. Governments remain interested in Sony demonstrating it has implemented enhanced security. Yes, there are and will be lawsuits.

There will also be a raft of goodwill gestures and make-goods coming to millions of PSN and Sony Online Entertainment customers. And while the outage will likely do damage to community numbers of certain games with heavy online components, most will likely return with forgiveness. The games will go on, and many disappointments will gradually fade.

Yet let's hope the last major headline has not been written. That should concern the arrest of the criminals whose attack brought down PlayStation Network. May they face formidable and painful consequences.


Comments

    I do like how this is proof that gaming is now definitely mainstream, with this even getting on the 24hour news channels.

    If something like this happened 5 years ago, can you really see it getting this much coverage?

      Five years ago, this breach probably wouldn't have had the potential to reveal more than a million credit card numbers. That seems to be the part that gained media interest.

    I must say. I am quite pleased at how Sony handled this situation. I do think some people are overly critical of the company; this stuff happens! Whether or not Sony's security systems were up to scratch or not, I'll let the professionals determine that. While its easy to say, "they should of told us earlier when the breach happened", one should know the magnitude of the problem, before prompting people to take action. What if on day one Sony said, "All credit cards have probably been stolen!". It would be anarchy! Naturally, I contemplated ditching the PS3 altogether and just staying with my 360 (and good on Microsoft not kicking Sony while they were down!). All things considered, I forgive Sony! Keeping in mind how big the company is, this situation could of been handled far, far worse. Now lets just hope the sad individuals responsible are brought to justice.

      This attitude really bothers me. What do you mean they couldn't tell us earlier because it would be anarchy? "Oh no, people might have been able to cancel their cards and change their passwords! It's out of control!"

      Sony is not the only company to be hacked, but as soon as data MAY have been stolen they should have warned users. Other companies do this, including Abbey books in the US who recently warned me to change my password because they may have been breached. Sony sat on their hands for a weak in the hope they were wrong because they thought it would look bad. Unfortunately, it turned out they had been hacked. Why should I put faith in this company again?

        It is probably human to have an opinion on assumptions we all make because we don't have enough information. As I understand it, they found out that their servers were breached, got experts in to take a look at what is going on. When they saw that data has been compromised, they shut down the PSN services. So already there is no use in letting you know to change you password since the whole network is down. After getting more experts in to fully understand what is going on. They realised that personal data got stolen. Now this is where things got hazy. Even Sony agreed that they should have let people know earlier, true, but with no reports of CC fraud because of the PSN outage, I'm not too bothered in changing card. (That and it expires next month anyway.) So if "sitting on their hands" = getting experts and law enforcement involved, then true.

        There is a greater risk in Identity theft because of all the other information they stored in the DB. Full addresses, DOB etc. How many people moved homes, changed addresses? Too difficult.

        I think people are to easily convinced to put too much information on the internet in general. It is all over the place, PSN, xbox live, facebook, amazon and then some. After this card expires it will probably be back to PSN cards for me for a while till I'm again too lazy to go out and buy them...So maybe that is the problem...lazy...

          Well said. I am glad its back. I am not sueing. I am just glad the wait is over. Great stuff. I have always preferred Playstation to any other console. Always will.

        I think everything you say is perfectly valid. That was just my opinion is saying they handled things well, but people are welcome to disagree. To elaborate on what I meant by anarchy, worst case scenario, 77 million people cancelling their cards (obviously not every account had an attached credit card, but you get the picture). The amount of time and money it will cost the banks replacing those cards, and the ramifications it will have for other companies (with everyone changing their details). Also, just as a hypothetical situation, what if they could in fact at a later date prove that no credit card information at all was stolen, after informing people as soon as the breach occurred that their credit card number was most likely compromised? Then we would have the masses outraged, demanding why there wasn't a thorough investigation into the hacking, to find out what was stolen, before informing the customers. When dealing with this amount of people, you would have to be sure, right? I think people just need to be a little more rational in their thinking. Whether or not to put your trust into Sony again though, thats your choice. I can understand your stance though, especially since we are dealing with your money here..

          The cost of replacing the cards, spread across the entire credit sector, is minor in comparison to potential for fraud. That's a complete non-issue. Also, when referring to the need to change passwords, I was referring to the fact that most people use the same email across multiple accounts. It's bad practice I know, but its unreasonable to expect people to remember 100+ email passwords.

          I also disagree with the later point. I'll use the Abbey books example again as it happened recently - they still don't know, several months later, if anything was taken. No one cares, they changed some passwords and moved on with their lives. 99% of people will understand that in these circumstances you err on the side of caution. Sony didn't even admit a breach of any kind for the first 6 days, people thought the network being taken down was due to piracy. This was handled with incredible negligence.

    Truly a monumental hacking event. Hopefully big companies will buck up after this.

    In the mean time, Sony better give us another way of paying for their goods because no way am I trusting them with my cc info anymore.

    I guess if I reeeeeealy want something from PSN (which is super rare) I might check out the prepaid cards...

      sorry I am confused by the comment "sony better give us another way to pay.. (other than CC)

      hasn't PSN Cards been around for some time? http://gamecard.com.au/my/shopdisplayproducts.asp?id=13&cat=Playstation+Network

      though I wonder if they will make their way more mainstream, along side iTunes cards at supermarket checkouts

    "Its perpetrators were at first thought to be goofball hackers, and now are understood to be criminals with quite sophisticated means."

    Oh come now, are we going to perpetrate the "It was Anonymous!" Thing still? I mean the actual data breach is seen to not be a mob mentality, but a focused attack by a single or few skilled hackers. By which, associates themselves with a group whose membership consists solely of hearsay.

    Effectively it's like saying: "The murderer was thought to be a mild mannered Christian, and now Christians are understood to be quite evil."

      I think it's saying the perps were not anonymous because they were sophisticated.

        Well, the meaning of my post remains the same then anyways, that you should consider the implicit nature of your communication.

        Myself included of course.

    When they catch these nerds, enjoy your butt love in jail.

      LOL
      While I doubt they would be put in a supermax with really hardened crims but I do find some perverted amusement picturing the guard introducing the caught hacker to his new 6'8" and 160kg cell mate named bubba.

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