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Sony's PSN Woes: The Plot Thickens


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, "is a non-departmental public body reporting directly to Parliament and deals primarily with the Data Protection Act and other related legislation."

Read more after the jump!

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.


Gabe said:

I hope they burn

Rioracer916 said:

From what I understand, this was totally preventable. But Sony decided that padding their bottom line by a few thousand dollars extra was more important than due diligence with regards to customer information.

Hackers are a fact of life, like natural disasters. The fact that they had customer credit card info unencrypted on their servers is bad for two reasons: One an unscrupulous employee at Sony could easily gain access or Two a hacker could have a field day. Either way customer data can be compromised.

Given all the info that has come out over the past week, how anyone can support a company that doesn't give two sh!ts about its customers personal information, is mind boggling.

I can only imagine that those who do end up supporting Sony after this are just predispositioned to accepting and participating in abusive interpersonal relationships due to poor self-esteem.

Phoenix0879 said:

Rioracer, have you read the statement from Sony? Credit Card details WERE encrypted and at the moment don't appear to have been breached, however Sony are now urging caution. The details taken are bad, no one will disagree with that (as a PSN user, trust me I'm concerned), however it is no more than can be acquired from other web sources (with the exception of PSN account passwords) where most people are concerned.

It could have been far, far worse. My big concern is how long it took Sony to start talking to its customer base about what has happened. Lets hope that they learn from this and 1) improve security and 2) customer relations.

VorpalBunny said:

The class action lawsuits will be interesting considering what just happened in the Supreme Court yesterday: they ruled in favor of corporations being able to bust up class action suits and require those seeking legal action to sue individually. Not entirely sure on what circumstances that requires, but it's possible it will have some importance in how this is handled with those two lawsuits.

BlackRabbit said:

I spent about 45 minutes on the phone (and went through two "supervisors") with PSN Customer Service the day before they finally made their announcement about our compromised info, and at the end of those 45 minutes, they assured me that my information was fine that a "company as big as Sony.." wouldn't have that problem...

Clearly it was just one poor Customer Service rep trying to get me off the phone, but for me it leaves an even worse taste in my mouth.

Your point about the fact that they didn't even alert us to a *possible* security breach of our info is incredibly important, it underlines the fact that just as you said, Sony cared in this instance (and likely many others..) about their bottom line far more than they valued their customers.

DeadRobot said:

Is it ironic that the graphic for this story is stolen?

jayoshi said:

Whatever you say, Alanis.

sony is so fucked up D: hope they see this like an chance to restart the politics of the company (:

thief-of-time said:

what i haven´t been able to figure out is, if all PSN accounts are affected/breached. sony said that they informed eevryone whos account has been breached via email.. i haven´t received anything from sony yet... does that mean i´m safe or does that mean sony lied? i don´t know...

Gabe said:

I'm happy they are getting sued. They deserve it after the PS2 "disc read error" scam, they made me buy TWO PS2s

Super Swede said:

@thief of time:

I recently (just this morning) received an email from Sony regarding the matter. It's pretty much the kind of info one would expect -- too little, too late, in my opinion. Not exactly being an accomplished identity thief, i can only make an educated guess that upon stealing such information, the goal is to use it as quickly as possible, before the cardholder suspends the account.

This is one of those instances in which i can't quite wrap my head around why such a delay on Sony's part seemed like a good idea. I can understand brazen self-interest; the goal of any company is, naturally, to make as much money as possible. But part of that self interest, and the supposed peripheral benefit of it all is that companies who honestly don't give a flying toss about you as a person will be compelled to treat you right, since you, beloved consumer, are the ones lining their pockets -- "Invisible Hand" and whatnot. It therefore stands to reason that between bad press and the potential for catastrophically bad press (were a larger-scale incident were to have occurred), the choice should, and i stress "should," have been clear.

Granted, we all know the inherent risk of doing business online, but that risk can be mitigated by vigilance and swift action on the part the companies to whom we, for better or for worse, entrust our personal data. To see the events unfolding as they have is disappointing, to say the very least.

Mittens said:

Most groups would be reticent to alert a fickle market about potential security breaches if there were still a chance that it was not realized. We play loose in the current market as a way of keeping costs manageable and business practical. And then we let insurance pick up the pieces.

So, I don't think anyone should be surprised that this occurred. If anything, we should be surprised that we got notified at all--that's better sportsmanship than I'm led to believe is normal.

thief-of-time said:

@super swede : you got the email this morning? heh.. seems that sony mails travel by horse or something since sony said they emailed everyone concerned two or three days ago...

Mark said:

Guys, they said they had 77 million accounts to notify, each one of those accounts getting a separate email. It takes a lot of time to send out that much email. They said they started sending them on the 26th and expected to be finished on the 28th, though Super Swede shows that maybe it took another few hours to get to everybody. Yes, this whole situation sucks for everyone involved, but jesus christ I wish people would stop treating Sony like they're the anti-christ.

jayoshi said:

Well if the Sony executives were not such cocky bastards always saying how their shit doesn't stink, maybe people would go easy on them. Sony's ego has been so big ever since the PS2 started selling like hotcakes. They make fun of their competition and the competition's customers by saying, for example, that Nintendo's adult fans should be ashamed for owning such a kids toy. Wasn't it like a month ago or so that Mr. Tretton was saying that no self respecting adult would play a Nintendo DS in public? They have this bully mentality thinking they are better than everyone else. Now everyone is glad to see them fall so badly on their ass.

Enjoy a couple of these Penny Arcade comics about said cockiness.

thief-of-time said:

yes..exactly... i´m fed up with sony´s behaviour. costumers are treated like sh*t and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

Nikademus said:

I've done something about it...I haven't owned a Sony system since my PS2 died back in 2002.

thief-of-time said:

just received the sony PSN mail. mail-host recognised it as spam and the little "SONY make believe" icon in the lower right of the mail really made me laugh...

Nick said:

When I was on the phone with them about getting my account refunded for my unusable Qriocity subscription, which is now going to get billed again since i can't cancel it. The rep was completely rude to me as if it was my fault. He refused to credit the account, or notate that it should be. I was very polite to him that I was not pleased I was paying for something I wasn't receiving, and didn't want to be billed again due to it not working. He said when my PSN is accessible from my PC or PS3, I'm more than welcome to cancel. But until then it'll continue to bill as normal and if Sony decides to refund my account or anyone they'll announce it publicly and I'll have my answer. Anyone else have this issue with them as well?

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Nick on Sony's PSN Woes: The Plot Thickens: When I was on the phone with them about getting my account refunded for my unusable Qriocity subscription, which is...

thief-of-time on Sony's PSN Woes: The Plot Thickens: *sigh* just received the sony PSN mail. mail-host recognised it as spam and the little "SONY make believe" icon...

Nikademus on Sony's PSN Woes: The Plot Thickens: I've done something about it...I haven't owned a Sony system since my PS2 died back in 2002....

thief-of-time on Sony's PSN Woes: The Plot Thickens: yes..exactly... i´m fed up with sony´s behaviour. costumers are treated like sh*t and there is nothing anyone can do about...

jayoshi on Sony's PSN Woes: The Plot Thickens: Well if the Sony executives were not such cocky bastards always saying how their shit doesn't stink, maybe people would...

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