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Archive

Archive for April, 2011

Did Sony do enough to satisfy angry PlayStation Network users? (poll)

April 30th, 2011 No comments

Sony executives formally apologized to users who were affected by the hacker attack on the PlayStation Network, the online entertainment service that has been down for more than 10 days.

The company has been criticized for acting too slowly to respond to user concerns about the break-in and whether or not personal information such as credit card numbers were stolen. Sony executive Kaz Hirai said as many as 10 million credit card numbers may have been stolen by the hackers.

Today, Sony’s Hirai repeatedly apologized to users for the data breach. It said it would begin restoring the service for the PSN and Qriocity music and video service within a week. It offered to reimburse customers for the costs related to credit card reissuance and for any needed identity protection service. Sony is also offering a “welcome back” initiative to compensate users for their losses. That includes free content, which may vary based on the region where the user lives; it also includes 30 days free subscription to the paid PlayStation Plus service. And it includes

Sony also pledged to move its service to a new data center and to beef up its security so this doesn’t happen again. Frankly, I think Sony did a good job here, although it should have done it much sooner. It pretty much said everything that I expected it to say. It probably could have disclosed more about the exact nature of the attack, but it erred on the side of not disclosing this information to prevent future attacks.

Are you satisfied that Sony said enough to mollify angry users?

Online Surveys – Zoomerang.com

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Some PSN services to return this week, full services ‘within this month’

April 30th, 2011 No comments
Sony's US PlayStation blog tonight announced that "some PlayStation Network and Qriocity services" will become available this week as the company scrambles to build a new server home in the wake of a security breach earlier this month. Though no specific time or date is named, the post lays out a plan to "begin a phased restoration by region" of services "shortly," alongside a mandatory system update for all consoles forcing a change in password, before the full return of services "within this month."

With the return of services will also come a new position at Sony Corporation: chief information security officer, a position that will report to current chief information officer Shinji Hasejima. Additionally, the company says it is expediting an "already planned move" of its data center -- a data center the post claims to have been "under construction and development for several months," despite the attacks having only occurred within the past few weeks. Sony also detailed its "Welcome Back" appreciation program a bit more thoroughly, though it still remains unclear what content the company will be offering in various regions as an apology. The list of known services returning to PSN this week are listed after the break.

Continue reading Some PSN services to return this week, full services 'within this month'

JoystiqSome PSN services to return this week, full services 'within this month' originally appeared on Joystiq on Sun, 01 May 2011 01:35:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Marvel Super Hero Squad Online now available

April 30th, 2011 No comments

Marvel Super Hero Squad Online now available screenshot

We got some good news about the Marvel Universe MMO but let's not forget about the other Marvel MMO from Gazillion. Super Hero Squad Online, the free-to-play Marvel super hero game for kids, is now out on the PC.

The browser based game sees you playing as kiddie versions of your favorite super heroes as you go on quests against evil forces or decorate S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Helicarrier Headquarters. Last I played this, it was honestly fun. Nothing that I would sink more than an hour into, but it's definitely a fun game and something any Marvel obsessed child will dig.

Either way, check it out. It's free to play after all!

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Sony Discusses New Plans For PlayStation Network

April 30th, 2011 No comments
PSN Down: Sony Announces New Plans For PlayStation Network
Despite the fact that it is both a holiday and a Sunday in Japan, three Sony executives held a press conference today to discuss the PlayStation Network outage ...

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PSN ‘welcome back program’ includes a free download, 30 days free PlayStation Plus, Qriocity

April 30th, 2011 No comments
Notes handed out before a Sony press conference today (timed so conveniently at 1am EDT in the US, and noon on the Sunday of Golden Week in Japan) reveal that Sony plans to offer free downloads of unidentified "content," 30 days of free PlayStation Plus access to new and existing members, and 30 days of free Qriocity service. The paper also says that PSN service will be restored "soon."

Two days ago, a PlayStation Blog Q&A post mentioned that the company was considering a "goodwill gesture" to PSN users (and sure, why not Qriocity users too) put out by the two-week outage. The company will likely have to provide much more dramatic gestures to appease all the government organizations who have taken interest in the case (and, you know, that enormous data leak).

Follow along after the break for pseudo-liveblog coverage of the presentation by Kaz Hirai and other executives.

Continue reading PSN 'welcome back program' includes a free download, 30 days free PlayStation Plus, Qriocity

JoystiqPSN 'welcome back program' includes a free download, 30 days free PlayStation Plus, Qriocity originally appeared on Joystiq on Sun, 01 May 2011 00:50:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Sony says 10M credit card numbers may have been stolen

April 30th, 2011 No comments

Sony executive Kaz Hirai said tonight that the number of exposed credit card numbers in the PlayStation Network hacker attack was about 10 million. But the Japanese company still does not know if those card numbers were actually stolen and if hackers are trying to use them in fraudulent purchases.

Hirai said that authorities are looking into the matter and he could not yet say what the damages are from the incident, where hackers penetrated the servers of the PlayStation Network, which has 77 million registered users. The hacker attack is one of the worst in corporate history and it could make a lot of people and corporations pause as they shift their data and operations to the web-connected cloud.

The 10 million number of potentially stolen credit card numbers is lower than the 77 million number because not everyone who logs into the network makes a purchase. Much of Sony’s services on the PSN are free, so many users go online on the network without ever using adding their credit card information. Some users have created more than one account. So the number of people affected is less than 77 million accounts.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the hacker attack. Other government law enforcement agencies are working on the case in other countries. The company said that the credit card numbers were encrypted and investigators have found no evidence that hackers looked at the data related to the cards.

Sony said that the vulnerability exploited by the hackers was a known one, meaning Sony should have known about it. The attackers broke into a web application server, made a tool to give them unauthorized access, and used that to gain access, Sony said.

Sony chose not to describe the exact attack because it did not want that information used to launch more attacks. Hirai said compromised credit card numbers have not been used so far. As for criticism that Sony acted too slowly, Hirai said that it acted as swiftly as it could. He said the company engaged three security firms to fix the problem immediately. He said it took time to analyze all of the data and that was why it took so long.

“As we became more certain of the information, we communicated to the users,” Hirai said.

Stopping the system took time — more so than Sony expected. There was also a voluminous amount of information that Sony had to analyze.

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PSN Down: PSN Down Compensation Plan Announced, Service Back Online By End of May

April 30th, 2011 No comments
PSN Down: Sony Announced Compensation Plans, Hopes To Have Full PSN Restored By End of Month
Sony is currently hosting a press conference in Japan detailing the changes and details of the "Welcome Back" program that will be providing com ...

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PSN Down Compensation Plan Announced, Service Back Online By End of May

April 30th, 2011 No comments
PSN Down: Sony Announced Compensation Plans, Hopes To Have Full PSN Restored By End of Month
Sony is currently hosting a press conference in Japan detailing the changes and details of the "Welcome Back" program that will be providing com ...

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Sony executive Kaz Hirai apologizes for PlayStation Network outage

April 30th, 2011 No comments

Sony executive Kaz Hirai apologized to gamers around the world today in a press event in the wake of the 10-day outage of the hacked PlayStation Network.

Hirai and other Sony executives and apologized to users immediately upon coming out on stage at a press conference in Tokyo. As they did so, they bowed in front of the press. The executives described what happened with a “highly sophisticated attack” against the PSN.

Hackers attacked the PlayStation Network on April 19, forcing the Japanese company to bring down the network, which has more than 77 million registered users. The outage has been one of the most humbling corporate events for Sony. The security gaffe, which happened at the same time that Amazon’s web services data center crashed, could shake the faith that consumers have in the internet cloud, where corporations say they will protect their personal data.

“This criminal act against our network had a significant impact not only on our consumers, but our entire industry,” Hirai said. “These illegal attacks obviously highlight the widespread problem with cyber-security.  We take the security of our consumers’ information very seriously and are committed to helping our consumers protect their personal data.  In addition, the organization has worked around the clock to bring these services back online, and are doing so only after we had verified increased levels of security across our networks.”

Speaking through a translator, Hirai said, “We advised customers to be vigilant” about the possibly stolen credit card numbers. He said that Sony is cooperating with authorities in a criminal investigation in pursuit of the hackers. Hirai said that as many as 10 million credit cards numbers may have been stolen. That number appears to be all of the credit card numbers that Sony has, since many of the 77 million registered users log into the network and play online for free.

In making the announcement, Sony pretty much followed the script I offered to them. That doesn’t mean I knew a lot about what they would do or that I am especially smart. Rather, it was just so obvious what Sony had to do and it was surprising that Sony took 10 days to do it. Still, it was good that Sony’s executives talked to the press and answered all questions from the media, at least as well as they could. They stayed on stage for an hour and 42 minutes. In that respect, Sony may have earned some good will tonight, and begun the process of repairing its damaged reputation.

The apology press event took place in Japan at 2 pm Sunday Tokyo time, or 10 pm on Saturday evening Pacific time. Hirai, (pictured above), is representative corporate executive officer and executive deputy president of Sony as well as head of the game business. He was joined by Shinji Hasejima, senior vice president and chief information officer at Sony, and Shiro Kambe, senior vice president of corporate communications at Sony.

Sony said it wasn’t sure whether hackers had stolen users’ credit card numbers, which were encrypted. But users have begun to complain about false charges on their credit card accounts. Other corporations can’t be smug as they watch Sony and Amazon recover, since no one can be certain that their networks are secure from hackers or technical glitches.

The PlayStation Network is Sony’s all-important hub of the digital age. It enables PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable users to go online and find more content to download to their machines, from movies to TV shows. The PSN also hosts Sony’s Home virtual world and its console-based Sony Online Entertainment games: Free Realms and DC Universe Online. Also, the service allows users to store their saved single player games and engage in multiplayer combat online. The Qriosity service, which also went down, gives users access to online movies and music. In other words, the PSN and Qriosity are central to Sony’s survival in the digital age.

Back in March, Sony chief executive Howard Stringer concentrated more power in the hands of Hirai, who once headed the U.S. PlayStation business for Sony. Hirai is now the No. 2 executive next to Stringer and may be in line to succeed him when Stringer steps down around 2013.

The problem for Sony is that this story, like the outage itself, has refused to die. We’ve run 15 stories about it so far, mainly because users seem hungry for more information because there just hasn’t been enough good information coming from the official source. Sony has been good about putting updates on the PlayStation blog, but it hasn’t been fast enough.

For instance, Sony said the attack occurred on April 19, forcing Sony to shut the services down. Sony notified users on April 22 that an “external intrusion” led to an outage. It hired forensic computer investigators to figure out what happened. After their initial inquiry, Sony announced on April 26 that personal user data for all 77 million of the PSN and Qriosity services had been compromised and their credit card numbers have been stolen. On April 26, Sony began informing all affected users of the possible credit-card data breach.

Hirai said that hackers penetrated a web application server and made a tool to give themselves illegal access to the database. They were able to access a database with data that included credit card numbers.

Hirai said the company is moving servers from San Diego, Calif., to a more advanced data center with better security. It is also installing more security systems with automated software management and enhanced levels of data encryption and better ability to detect data intrusions. The company is adding more firewalls too and it is adding a new chief information security officer, reporting to Hasejima. PS 3 will have a new system software update requiring users to change their user names and passwords. The password can only be changed on the same PS 3 on which the account was created or via validated email.

To deter identity theft, the company is asking customers to be vigilant and check their credit card statements. Customers can check their purchase history on the PSN via Sony’s customer support system. Sony said it will not ask for credit card numbers and warned users to beware of possible phishing schemes sent via email. Sony will consider the cost of reissue of credit cards if consumers wish to do so. It will provide a complimentary offering for identity theft protection services in each affected country.

The company will roll out a program with a selection of premium services for consumers. This “welcome back” content will have free downloads, and 30 days of free PlayStation Plus network service. Normally, Sony charges extra for the Plus service, while membership in the PlayStation Network is free. Current members of PlayStation Plus will get 30 days of free service. Music Unlimited, powered by Qriocity, subscribers will get 30 days of free service in countries where it is available. Sony could not quantify the value of this free service and content offering for its users.

The company is planning on restoring the services as soon as it can, with some services starting this week. Hirai said that Sony’s network services are key to its strategy and it will continue to strengthen them and learn from this incident. The attack targeted Sony’s data center in San Diego, Calif.

Separate from the attack that brought down the PSN, Hirai said that Sony’s sites had been subjected to attacks from Anonymous, the hacktivist group that targeted Sony during its litigation with “jailbreaking” hacker George “Geohot” Hotz. During these attacks, hackers dug out personal information on Sony executives and published it on the web. Sony is cooperating with authorities on those attacks as well.

In closing, Hirai bowed again and apologized again. Responding to press questions, Hirai said that he had received questions about the matter from members of Congress in the U.S. and would answer the questions. In about a week’s time, the service is expected to restart. Hirai said he had not received reports that actual damages had been incurred related to the credit card exposure.

Hirai said that Sony will advise users to change their passwords and not use the same ones over again. Hirai said that Sony has operated an online gaming network since the launch of the PlayStation 2 and it has had to deal with online security for a long time. But he noted that the new situation is different. He noted that Anonymous has been attacking different corporate sites around the world for quite some time.

Sony’s network services are core to its strategy and it has to improve its security, Hirai said.

“We are living in a network society and we will deal with this kind of situation the best we can,” he said.

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Weekly Webcomic Wrapup is all about the breach

April 30th, 2011 No comments
Obviously, the gaming webcomic community isn't really big into the "never kick a gigantic technology company while it's down" philosophy. Just about all of our regular contributors had a strip about the PSN security breach -- but only a select few made it into the list below. See, we're not big into rewarding mean-spiritedness; unless, of course, it is very, very funny.

Check out our seven favorite gaming-related webcomics from this past week in the list below! Make sure you vote for your favorite in the poll posted after the jump!

Cry Wolf (Awkward Zombie)
Gaming the System (Life in Aggro)
Negative Reinforcement (Digital Unrest)
It Only Doesn't (Penny Arcade)
Overgrowth (Brawl in the Family)
Fort Knox (VG Cats)
Co-Op Consternation (Of Noobs and Men)

Continue reading Weekly Webcomic Wrapup is all about the breach

JoystiqWeekly Webcomic Wrapup is all about the breach originally appeared on Joystiq on Sat, 30 Apr 2011 23:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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