It's been a rough few weeks for Sony and its customers that rely on the PlayStation Network (PSN) service for online multiplayer and numerous other online services. PSN initially went offline on April 21 after Sony discovered a security breach that resulted in the loss of 77 million customer records. An additional 24 million accounts were compromised on the Sony Online Entertainment service.
I. Services come back online
PSN is back online for customers living in the United States, Canada, and Europe; so gamers should be happy to hear that they can now continue to race, compete, kill, and trash talk with gamers around the globe. In order to access the new and reinvigorated PSN, however, customers will have to update their PS3's to firmware v3.61. In addition, Sony understandably forces customers to change their password to access PSN.
According to Sony, these are the services that will be initially restored for customers:
- Sign-in for PlayStation Network and Qriocity services, including the resetting of passwords
- Restoration of online game-play across PS3 and PSP
- Playback rental video content, if within rental period, of PlayStation Network Video Delivery Service on PS3, PSP and MediaGo
- Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity, for current subscribers, on PS3 and PC
- Access to 3rd party services such as Netflix, Hulu, Vudu and MLB.tv
- 'Friends' category on PS3, including Friends List, Chat Functionality, Trophy Comparison, etc
- PlayStation Home
II. Sony apologizes (again)
Sony Executive Deputy President Kazuo Hirai also took the time to address customers and express regret for the trouble this security breach has caused for the past three weeks. "I'd like to send my sincere regret for the inconvenience this incident has caused you, and want to thank you all for the kind patience you've shown as we worked through the restoration process," said Hirai. "I can't thank you enough for your patience and support during this time. We know even the most loyal customers have been frustrated by this process and are anxious to use their Sony products and services again.
Hirai also attempted to reassure customers that it takes security seriously and that "Our consumers' safety remains our number one priority." Hirai concluded by stating, "We want to assure our customers that their personal information is being protected with some of the best security technologies available today, so that everyone can feel comfortable enjoying all that PlayStation Network and Qriocity services have to offer."
III. Now what?
It’s one thing to lose usernames, passwords, and email addresses in a security breach, but Sony experienced far worse. Not only were the full names and addresses of customers compromised, but credit card data was also obtained for some user accounts. As a result, Sony has come under pressure by members of the U.S. Senate and is the focus of a class-action lawsuit. In addition, retailers around the globe reported that PS3 returns spiked during the PSN outage, with many customers trading in their Sony consoles for Xbox 360s made by Microsoft.
However, George "GeoHot" Hotz explained back in late April that Sony has no one but itself to blame for this whole mess.
The fault lies with the (Sony) executives who declared a war on hackers, laughed at the idea of people penetrating the fortress that once was Sony, whined incessantly about piracy, and kept hiring more lawyers when they really needed to hire good security experts. Alienating the hacker community is not a good idea.
Sony is adamant about protecting its customer data, and we applaud them for that. However, it may take more than a few months of free online services for customers to have full faith in Sony again.