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By 7 June 2011 | Categories: feature articles

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When it comes to online gaming services, most PlayStation 3 (PS3) fans opt for the free PlayStation Network (PSN). Last month however, this sentiment has withered and died as the PSN and a number of other Sony services suffered hacker attacks.

The attack on the PSN exposed a massive 77 million users' private information including details such as usernames, passwords, telephone numbers and addresses. It was reported that credit and debit card details of certain users were also leaked in the hack, although no evidence of these details being used to siphon money have been found, indicating that the attack was aimed squarely at Sony, and not for financial reasons as many hacks are.

Sony bugger up

The anger felt by gamers, intensified by the length of the outage, was made much worse due to the handling of the situation by Sony. It's reported that the attacks occurred around either the 16th or 17th of April, with Sony shutting down services on the 20th of April. Sony only notified customers that their data may have been leaked on the 26th of April though, a decision which has already resulted in lawsuits being filed against the company. In addition to the PSN, Sony's Qriocity services as well as Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) were taken offline, the latter leaking 24.6 million accounts, causing Massively Multiplayer Online players to lose access to their game of choice.

Who dunnit?

The perpetrators of the hack are thought to be linked to hacker activist group Anonymous, although the group has issued several statements saying it didn't order the attacks, instead blaming it on a splinter group within its ranks. Whoever is responsible, the reason for the hack is widely thought to be linked to Sony's recent court proceedings against George Hotz, the hacker who released the PS3 rootkey to the world.

After struggling with the issue for weeks, Sony outlined a number of goodwill packages to users, including a million dollar identity theft insurance package and two free games for PS3 and PSP gamers. A new security system sporting improved firewalls and new early warning systems have also been implemented.

Now it's a matter of Sony dealing with the inevitable legal backlash, tracking down those responsible, and perhaps rethinking some of its user policies. It's a classic David and Goliath story, although no one expected the Sony giant to hit the ground quite as hard as it did. [JK]

Sony Playstation Network Logo

What is the PlayStation Network (PSN)?

The PSN is Sony's online gaming portal, allowing PS3 users access to extra content such as demos and custom themes. More importantly it allows PS3 users to play games against each other online.

 

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