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A View from Erica Naone

Roundup: Sony's Security Woes

Sony reveals that the week-long outage of its PlayStation Network was due to a massive security breach.

  • April 27, 2011

Sony’s PlayStation Network has been down for a week as the company scrambled to deal with what it now admits was a massive security breach:

We are currently working to send a similar message to the one below via email to all of our registered account holders regarding a compromise of personal information as a result of an illegal intrusion on our systems. These malicious actions have also had an impact on your ability to enjoy the services provided by PlayStation Network and Qriocity including online gaming and online access to music, movies, sports and TV shows.

The company says it expects to restore some service within a week, and that it’s working with a security firm to plug the holes that allowed the breach. Sony also says it’s been “rebuilding” its system to “enhance security and strengthen our network infrastructure.”

Sony has come under criticism for both the breach and its handling of the situation. Ars Technica writes:

In other words, Sony’s security has failed in a spectacular fashion, and we’re just now finding out about it. In both practical and PR terms, this is a worst-case scenario.

It’s clear that Sony’s misfortune (and that of its customers) illustrates the importance of good security practices. But it also illustrates the way that gaming has changed in recent years. In many cases, not being able to play a game online downright hobbles the gaming experience. Wired writes:

The outage has played havoc with the launches of key online games, most notably Portal 2. The fantastic puzzle game, released Tuesday, allows PlayStation 3 players to team up with users of Valve’s Steam platform on PC and Mac.

Unfortunately, the cross-platform play was only possible for one day. Once PSN went down, no one could play together — nor could they unlock the free Steam version of Portal 2 that was included with the PlayStation 3 version.

Hear more about security at EmTech MIT 2017.

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