Sony Says It Was Hacked Because It "Tried To Protect Its IP"

Sony Says It Was Hacked Because It "Tried To Protect Its IP"

At a shareholders’ meeting in Tokyo today, Sony boss Sir Howard Stringer got up on stage and had to field questions about the recent PlayStation Network attacks, which resulted in one of the biggest thefts of personal details in the history of the internet.

Brushing off calls for his resignation, Stringer explained why, he believes, Sony was targeted by the hacker in an attack which brought the PlayStation Network down for several weeks.

“We believe that we first became the subject of attack because we tried to protect our IP (intellectual property), our content, in this case videogames,” he told the crowd.

“These are our corporate assets, and there are those that don’t want us to protect them, they want everything to be free.”

And here were have the crux of the conflict between Sony and hackers, and why this is an issue that is far from being resolved. Sony, by Stringer’s own words here, does not differentiate between a console modified to run Linux and a console modified to run pirated games. It views the modification of the console as the means to a single end.

The hackers responsible, meanwhile, were protesting not for the right to play free games, but to use their console in whatever way they see fit. That may result in piracy, of course, but it does not guarantee it.

UPDATE 1-Sony says protecting content made it hackers’ target [Reuters]

(Top photo by David McNew | Reuters)


  • It doesn’t guarantee it, but it might as well be the same thing. There’s barely anything good on homebrew, and using that as an excuse is ridiculous. Look at the R4, there’s a huge number of pirates out there, and of course developers want to protect their games.

    • I’m not into the PS3 homebrewing scene, but tassuming “There’s barely anything good on homebrew” is doing yourself a disservice.

      Homebrew turned the original xbox into an excellent media centre. Jail broken iPhones are about 10 times more useful – I was tethering 6 months before that feature was introduced here. Copy and paste as well – all sorts of good stuff.

      I agree it’s a shame that this same technique can facilitate piracy – but you shouldn’t dismiss something based on it’s abuse.

    • Hey, I was using Linux on the PS3 for web browsing, retro gaming, and some tinkering for the joy of discovery. You’ve got to admit, Firefox beats the hell out of the standard PS3 browser.

      I was mighty pissed off when _they_ decided that _my_ console didn’t have the right to run Linux any more. From that perspective, I can very much sympathise with the hackers that broke the PS3 security. Not so much the hackers that broke the PSN security, though.

    • I take your R4 metaphor to heart as well – it has a more than generous ammount of homebrew.

      Look up ‘Still Alive’, as well as the Quake/Quake 2 homebrew project.

      Similarly, I like my R4 for it’s convenience. If I’m going on a holiday, do i want to take a huge stack of cartridges, or just one? (I buy every game I ‘pirate’, or rather, I pirate every game I buy)

      I also chipped my Wii so I wouldn’t have to wait the ungodly unreasonable time between the US and AU release of Super Smash Bros.

      People who modify their consoles =/= pirates, and the sooner devs can see this, the sooner this kind of thing will stop happening.

      • You don’t pirate, and you have legitimate reasons for using an R4 etc. But other people don’t. And guess what? They outnumber you guys about 10:1, which is why these sorts of draconian DRM policies are becoming more popular. It’s a hard truth, and no-one likes it, but I can understand why Sony/Nintendo do this.

        • So you have definitive proof of those numbers?

          I get that piracy is an issue, but I fail to see it being as rampant and out-of-control as devs/publishers make it out to be.

          • Not to mention the fact that no real money is lost from piracy, only hypothetical sales. These can’t be measured and to try and put figures of loss against piracy is just making numbers up.

            I agree that piracy is a problem and I wish it didn’t happen, but I also support your right to do with your console what you want. Maybe the console developers should look at the reasons other than piracy that people use things like R4 cartridges and try to cater something to that audience.

    • There’s a big difference between interfering with their right to protect their own IP and my being able to install whatever OS I like on what is, after all, my own legally purchased hardware.

  • Rubbish Sony – hackers are trying to get into everything all the time – Sony had lax security and paid the price.

    • Ok, so Sony had lax security, but put the blame where the blame is due. A woman walking down a dark street gets mugged and beatened up. She didn’t have anything like pepperspray with her to protect herself. Do you blame her or the mugger? The mugger of course!

      Sony may not have had the right protection, but let’s hate the criminals instead of the victims shall we?

      • Your analogy only works if that woman is carrying a half a million people’s personal information.

        It’s more like a bank being robbed – it’s not the BANKS money that gets stolen, it’s YOUR money, so you would want the bank to do a good job of protecting YOUR money.

        • Well put – agree wholeheartedly – Sony agreed to protect the information, they failed in that regard.

          I have issues with people saying Sony were unlucky – most sites/networks are under regular attack from hackers – the onus is on the company to be secure.

  • You know the only reason i would hack my ps3 is for region free blu ray…. God i hate region locking!

  • LOL. Yup, they don’t get it. Nice to see they made the connection between millions of lost dollars and locking people out of their PS3s with obnoxious legal tactics, though.

  • Here we go again.

    1. The hypervisor hacking (done through Linux) allowed people root access to the machine, bypassing all security systems
    2. Sony removed Linux to stop this major problem
    3. Coders found a way to restore Linux with security key; side effect, allows signed code, and thus hacked games
    4. Self entitled fuckheads start going “OMH I LUB MY LINUX AND HOMEBREW THATS ALL I WANT IT FOR”
    5. Sony sued the people who published the code so everyone could pirate
    6. Fuckheads: OMG DONT TREAD ON ME

    That’s where we’re at. Nothing more, nothing less.

    • You got proof of it being a major problem? As in actual numbers of how many were using this information in a way that was costing Sony money?

      • You build a games console. Someone finds a way to bypass all security measures you installed on the device, not only allowing them to sign unofficial code and have the system treat it as official, but also to pirate games and access developer/partner only channels and the PSN store at will.

        You think this might MAYBE be a problem they’d want to shut down ASAP? Maybe just a little bit?

          • You could probably take the number of PS3 torrents on Pirate Bay, half the number, and still be looking at a large amount.

            So – you have any actual numbers on the total people who have installed homebrew and never a pirated game?

          • You could look at the number of torrents but that doesn’t prove anything at all. You’d have to find out how many times each torrent was downloaded, how many of those downloads were unique downloads and whether or not the person downloading the games already own the game (I did this with a few PC games back in the day because I still had the CD-Key but the discs were scratched or lost.)

            Remember, you made claims without facts to back them up. The onus of proof is on you, not me.

    • Its all well and good to call these people ‘fuckheads’ and they will remain as such, until its actually a right that you care about being destroyed. Then they will become your brothers in arms against the evil oppressors.

      Every person that has said the same thing as SuperFed has had one thing in common, and i’m certain this is no different. Your shocked and appalled by the inconvenience you suffered in being unable to access the PSN.

      From where I sit, im glad that this hack was done NOW, by the particular brand of hackers who made the attack. Because god forbid someone with more talent and subtlety did it, then the first you would have heard was the cry of 10 million people in anguish as they all had credit cards maxed.

      • I’m sorry, I find it hard to equate protecting your IP and the security of not only your users, but your developers and partners and ensuring that your company continues to produce profits with “evil oppressors”

        The fact is that you could retain your OtherOS functionality by simply opting not to upgrade to the latest firmware. If you mainly used your PS3 hardware to run Linux and homebrew, this wouldn’t be a problem. If you want to run the latest games and access the PSN – which is compromised by the HV hacking – you have to trade in your OtherOS abilities.

        Sucky choice? Yes. But at least you have one.

        I’m not shocked and/or appalled by the PSN being down. I’m fine with that – I’d rather they take down a network and fix it properly than let me be exposed due to a partial patch. What I don’t like is fuckhead’s self entitled view that now that they’ve managed to bypass all security measures a multinational has NO RIGHTS to protect their own investment. Of course they do.

        • Sucky choice? It’s a hobson’s choice.

          People bought a PS3, which had Linux and access to the PSN. Sony then made customers choose which one they wanted to lose.

          They deserve what they got from hackers.

  • I thought they didn’t know who perpetrated the PSN hack? So if they don’t know who did it, how can they know what the motivation was? It might have just been organized criminals looking for a large stack of personal / credit card details they could sell for money.

  • Superfred said it best..

    The only thing I’ll offer as a tailend thought is to remember the words of Spiderman’s Grandpa.. Or Dad… Or whatever. “with great power comes great responsibility.” if you were to equip the masses with the power to circumvent security on the ps3, how many would use that power responsibly? Then consider the ratio between those responsible people and those who would use it for piracy? Probably an unacceptable amount of risk for Sony. And seriously, there are more PCs in the world than ps3’s. Surely there is an easier way to enjoy Linux?

  • Mission accomplished.

    Sony has everyone in this thread chatting away about piracy. Just as they wanted.

    There is a dozen other reasons why Sony may have been hacked. They are simply attempting to use pirates as scapegoats.

    For one, Sony is a massive multinational corporation that isn’t particularly able to shy away from the fact that they are in it for the cash. They are a tall poppy.

    Possibly, it was just due to their lax security. It could have been purely opportunistic, with a story made up after the fact.

    Although its kind of Sony’s response, but from a different perspective, perhaps Sony in their attempt to “protect its IP” should not have brought a massive law suit on an individual?

    Releasing the details of thousands of people may not seem the strongest gesture of support for their cause, but maybe the hackers truly were fighting for the rights of individuals..

    In any case, I don’t claim to know who did it or what their motives were.

    What I do know, is that it wasn’t done by a bunch of kids pissed off that they cant exchange PS3 games at school like they do 360 and Wii games already.

  • The hackers lost the moral high ground when they sold the info they were able to access. They would’ve had my support if they hadn’t made the decisions that allowed innocent users to be screwed with AND allowed criminals to profit from their “protest”.
    If they had taken the data, then used their beloved homebrew to improvea ps3’s security for the user, then publicly announced what they had done, Sony would have zero support right now and average users would be 100% on their side.
    Instead they chose the easy way out and gave the criminal hackers the tools and support they needed to screw everyone.
    Sony’s fail security could’ve been a watershed that brought Linux back. Instead its guaranteed Sony won’t ever allow it again. And most users will now support them preventing it.
    GJ guys. Best protest campaign ever. >_>

  • ““We believe that we first became the subject of attack because we tried to protect our IP (intellectual property), our content, in this case videogames,” he told the crowd.

    “These are our corporate assets, and there are those that don’t want us to protect them, they want everything to be free.”

    The thing I hate about these lines isn’t the fact that a company would legitimately want to and take action to protect their IP, but that they think we actually care. I don’t care about them at all, and they definitely were not under attack for having code plagiarized. What they were under ‘threat’ of were people using “their” equipment for doing things “they” didn’t want us to do (includes piracy) and decided:

    “Well surely you care and agree about protecting our IP? Surely then it is ok for us to remove features you paid for? You wont mind, we’re just protecting ourselves after all.”

  • Blaming this circumvention of their security on game piracy is absurd. The hackers didn’t steal games. They weren’t hacking to champion stealing games. Pure PR spin.

    • Cart before horse.

      See all the steps I mentioned above. After this point, Sony sued Geohotz for publishing how to exploit the security system and the master key (used primarily for piracy). Hackers then hacked Sony because they dared to protect their IP.

  • Yeah it had nothing to do with grabbing a scapegoat and trying to hold them responsible for all the actions of a bunch of people he’s probably never even met by throwing copious amounts of cash at the law in the hope that they could buy it for their own personal use.

    It also had nothing to do with a complete and utter lack of basic security that’s been known for half a decade if not many times more because they were too cheap to do the job that was expected of them.

    Political Spin: Telling a bold face lie until people start to beleive it.

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