Sony Finally Back Online : New gizmos, Gadgets gazette Blog

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sony Finally Back Online

Sony's PlayStation Network is finally back online, after a massive security breach forced the company to shut down in an increasingly embarrassing and costly debacle.

U.S. subscribers can now access the PlayStation Network as well as Qriocity music streaming services, although restoration may be slow for certain areas and customers can't yet use the PlayStation Store to purchase online games. Users will need to download a software update and change their passwords before resuming an online connection.

The Americas, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand are now online, but Asian countries like Japan and Korea will have to wait until their governments approve Sony's heightened security measures. Sony estimates it will achieve complete restoration worldwide within a month.

Sony's second-in-command Kazuo Hirai once again apologized profusely to angry customers on Saturday night, adding, "We are taking aggressive action at all levels to address the concerns that were raised by this incident, and are making consumer data protection a full-time, company wide commitment."

This renewed commitment to security comes after hackers broke into Sony's network from April 16 to 19 and stole around 100 million users' personal information. Major credit card companies have not yet seen unusual activity, though nearly 23,400 credit and debit card numbers were lifted.

Sony has blamed hacktivist group "Anonymous" for the attacks. While the hacker group did aim a number of "denial of service" attacks at the company, they deny tampering with credit card information. Sony says their April 16-17 attacks distracted the company from handling the much more severe break-in one day later.

Sony won't recover from this blow anytime soon, especially considering their inept handling of an already-embarrassing data breach. The company knew of the breach starting April 19 but did not tell the public until six days later, prompting lawsuits from disgruntled consumers and demands for explanations from government officials around the world.

This silence has done nothing to bolster consumer trust in the besieged company, whose allegedly weak security systems put millions of customers at risk for credit card fraud and identity theft.

Sony will have a long way to climb before it emerges from this hole. Since the network shutdown, its shares have dropped nine percent, though they rose slightly today as the company clawed its way back to functionality.

After its delayed response, the gaming giant has made a series of "peace offerings," like free games, as well as credit card monitoring and identity-theft protection up to $1 million for affected U.S. customers. Whether these efforts are enough to regain trust among customers after such a high-profile breach, however, remains to be seen.

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