For those of you living under piles of rocks beneath several feet of sand, it's been a rather difficult time for Sony. With the NGP out on the horizon, and E3 coming in June, the PSN hacking episode doesn't bode well for our friends across the pond. On top of the fire Sony has been receiving for, as politely as one can put it, being "less than forthcoming" about the episode -- never mind the costs that will be incurred to clean up the mess left in the wake of the security breach -- the company faces multiple lawsuits (one in California, the other in Alabama) and scrutiny from the UK's Information Commissioner's Office which, according to gamesindustry.biz, "is a non-departmental public body reporting directly to Parliament and deals primarily with the Data Protection Act and other related legislation."
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Mentions of Anonymous have been cropping up in the media -- a rather unsurprising consequence, given their action against Sony in the George Hotz case -- something that is only worth mentioning in passing. I've read few articles that have even flirted with the idea of any kind of involvement, and Anonymous has professed its innocence in the recent security breach. I'm inclined to believe them for the same reason I've criticized them (in retrospect, rather hastily) in the past: The potential PR fallout. Massive identity theft, or even the less-catastrophic PSN outage, benefits absolutely no one, save for the contemptible little weasel behind the breach. Not only does it fly in the face of their earlier statements -- after their attack against the PSN and Sony domains, they vowed to shift their tactics so as not to inconvenience customers -- but it feeds right into the idea of "hacktivist thugs" making life hard for the consumer. Whatever one thinks of Anonymous, they're not comically stupid, and until they embrace comical stupidity as a guiding virtue, I can't imagine them being behind something of on the order of possible identity theft.
For the sake of playing the devil's advocate, let's say that Sony's security is top-notch -- advancements in security will always find a way of being compromised by enterprising hackers -- and take them at their word that, according to Sony spokesman Patrick Seybold, "It was necessary to conduct several days of forensic analysis, and it took our experts until yesterday to understand the scope of the breach." It still leaves a bad taste in one's mouth, sending the message that the company cares more about its bottom line than the financial well-being of the consumer -- and that doesn't exactly encourage brand loyalty. Rather than giving a timely warning to customers of a possible security breach, however premature it might have seemed were that not to have been the case, thieves were given a days-long head start while PSN users sat back waiting to hear word on the aftermath of the PSN outage. No cases of credit card fraud have been reported yet, and perhaps nothing will occur, but that's not the point. Sony was lucky, and the next time a breach occurs, they might be rather less so. I find it simply unbelievable that Sony could have gone this long without the shadow of a thought that the outage could have been caused by hacking, and by extension, endanger the security of users' personal data. One can only hope that Sony will learn from this experience, lest they find themselves in a much more unfortunate situation next time around.