Happy Birthday – A Year On From The PSN Hack

It’s been a year (or so) since Sony had its Playstation Network attacked.

This caused the Japanese giants to shut-down their servers, admitting to knowing about the attack and not telling anyone for days, apologising for not disclosing said information, re-building their network and then giving away a load of stuff.

It sure was one heck of a month, but what was the true impact of the hack? Have things changed? Did Sony every recover? (SPOILER: Yes they did (SPOILER: kind of))

Clickedy click.

Before I move on to looking at the impact, let’s make sure everyone’s clear on what actually happened. Listening at the back?

On April the 19th 2011, Sony became aware that the Playstation Network (PSN) and their Qriocity service had been compromised, leading to unauthorised access to customer’s information. This led to them shutting down the 2 networks the following day as a precaution. Without mentioning the hack, they explained that the disruption was being taken care of and that it’d be “A full day or two” before the switches were flipped and services would resume as normal. A week later, they admitted there’d been a breach and 27 days later, in a staggered roll-out, the new and improved PSN was unleashed on the world.

What was the point of the attack? Well, it was reported that 93,000 accounts had their credit card details stolen, so some sort of financial motive could have been behind it all. The attack caused a huge amount of aggravation, a common goal in the day and age of ‘LulzSec’. That might have been the reason. Sony had angered a few people with its aggressive suing of ‘hackers’ and the removal of  Other OS, the homebrew communities favourite. Any of these could have been the true motive. Honestly, we don’t know ‘why’, but do we know ‘who’?

It was claimed by Sony that activist group Anonymous was behind the attack. This was denied by Anonymous, as they clearly state that their aim is not to disrupt paying customers or to steal money, but to fight for justice. It was reported that “we are Leigon”, a common calling card for Anonymous hackers, was found in a file left on Sony’s servers after the attack (again, this is disputed). Despite their protests, many people still believe that Anonymous were behind the attack in one form or another. This idea may be fuelled by the fact that Anonymous were responsible for an attack earlier in the year where they disrupted Sony’s services as a protest for, as mentioned earlier, their treatment of George Hotz and his fellow ‘hackers’.

Who was actually behind it, we’ll most likely never truly know. Someone who associates with Anonymous, Anonymous themselves or just someone trying to divert attention to Anonymous. Who’s to say?

After the whole ordeal was over, what then? People were mad and sued. Naturally. Congress wanted to know why it took so long to tell people about the danger of their information being swiped. Naturally. People claimed this would cost Sony millions. Naturally. Sony claimed that it’d gained them customers. Natura… what?

Sony shocked people with their “no such thing as bad publicity” attitude and claimed that all of the attention “woke up” their customers, who were now using their accounts more regularly. Another positive spin to come out of the whole mess was that the PSN is now safer than ever. As part of the recovery process, Sony had to rebuild the PSN, allowing them to create a network that, according to then Sony CEO, Howard Stringer, was;

 “more secure and better than ever”

After things calmed down and customers claimed their free stuff, people began to take stock. Sony announced that the predicted $170million was some way off the mark to the actual cost of the attack. Consumers were reminded of their responsibility to look after their credit card details. With hacking not being the most rare of occurrences, a rude wake up call was received by all.

All in all, it could be argued that the hack wasn’t all that bad. It appears to have had no real affect on people who enjoy the PSN, or any other network. Digital distribution is growing, people are still playing online and the games on PSN are getting better and better. Happy times indeed.



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