It began with 3.21. Now it’s 77 million. Where will this drama take Sony andÂ everybodyÂ else?
It’s been ten days since PlayStation Network was taken down because of securityÂ compromise. As of late, Sony’s has been reportedly rebuilding its infrastructure to improve its online service while disgruntled customers are crying for compensation and are at a loss when they were informed that were at risk of identity theft. The damage of this fiasco is now so huge that it can affect Sony’s video game business, the industry’s landscape and the hacking/modding/cracking community.
The Beginning of the End?
It all began when Sony removed its feature from PlayStation 3, a move that met an amount of criticism from some gamers, hackers and programmers, with the release of its official firmware version 3.21 last year. This event prompted the appearance of exploits for the console, starting with dongle-based mods like PS Jailbreak, culminating at fail0verflow‘s release of its custom firmware which enabled players to backup their games, and George Hotz publishing the PS3’s root key which is used to sign games and software run on the console to ensure their authenticity. Sony, in retaliation, played cat-and-mouse with constant security patches and a lawsuit against Hotz which ended in an out-of-court settlement which stops him from fiddling with any Sony hardware ever again. Earlier this month, not-so-anonymous hacker group Anonymous declared war against Sony, warning the company of its ‘atrocities’ against the hacking/modding community and attacked PlayStation Network, disabling it for a brief period of time before withdrawing, saying that they don’t want the gamers using the service to get involved in their ‘crusade’. Â 19-20 April, PlayStation Network went offline for undisclosed reasons. After supposed PR ‘disasters’, here we are, with 77 million accounts hijacked and the US Government Homeland Security jumping into the case.
Yes, George. Crap just got real.
Now, the thing just got real.
Many PSN users are putting the blame on Sony for this security breach. Things like PSN and the PS3 aren’t secure enough now, alleged unencrypted credit card and personal information, and supposed failure to disclose the service’s status during critical times were the most major complaints against the entertainment giant. However, the aforementioned aren’t really reason to file class action suits against Sony.
Sony is the major victim of this attack.
Let’s set fanaticism aside, and think a little. It isn’t like Sony exposed all that vital information for everyone to be used. PlayStation Network was attacked. That’s a fact. That alone gives Sony a bit less burden in this case. We all know that even the most secure business and government networks had their security breached at one point. Can Sony be blamed for its supposed ‘lack of security’? In one part, yes, because their security measures failed. That alone is infuriating for loyal customers. But we can say that Sony did its best to protect all of the data entrusted unto them, because if they were not, they would’ve been easily infiltrated the first time and nobody would be using the service. If PlayStation Network wasn’t secure the time the first custom firmwares came out, then everybody would have abused it.
How about their ‘PR disaster’? Why didn’t they inform everyone the possibility of vital information being compromised? Actually, they did, on Day 2. For some reason, some PSN users overlooked the possibility that their credit card information can be stolen due to this ‘external intrusion’. The words themselves spell danger: external intrusion. There’s nothing not to understand in that phrase. It’s kinda funny that people will have to wait for Day 6 for them to cancel those credit cards, change those emails and passwords, etc. Sony even updated its blog, although the first posts about it had little information about the situation.
Is it right for Sony to hold PSN’s status for a week before making their big announcement?
Sony said that it may take a few days to know what happened and implement countermeasures to prevent an attack like it from happening again. They have to make sure that the information to provide their customers is accurate and correct thus an investigation was conducted. When they realized what happened with the help of forensic analysis, they decided to inform everybody about what they found out.Â ForensicÂ analysis. That phrase alone spells ‘long and painstaking’ to me, even with little computer knowledge. It’s daunting to see that people thinkÂ forensic analysis can be done within a day as seen on CSI. Sony did everything by the book, and did their best to inform people of the situation and what they can do about it. If what Sony did was PR disaster then I dunno what proper PR is.
Right to Protect Interest
Everything happening right now boils down to protecting interests. Other OS was removed because Sony felt it may lead to rampant piracy of their games. However, this backlashed as this action prompted the hacking/modding community to get their hands on the PS3 again — to restore Other OS. Restoring the feature isn’t really the goal of cracking the PS3 open, it seems. Package files and ISOs popped up right after the release of custom firmwares. It’s as if they were designed not to encourage homebrew, but rather to proliferate game piracy. Everybody is using custom firmwares to run downloaded games. Period. Nobody can deny that.
These conflicting interests is what sparked this brouhaha.
Sony wants to protect its users, its business and the developers who trust their console. This is why they went extended lengths like sueing Hotz and shutting down PlayStation Network. Sony wants to make PSN fun for everyone, while making money off its users and urging developers to make games for their console, which will in turn help devs make some cash making games for everyone. Sony, as a company, has an obligation of protecting itself and its customers because if they don’t protect their customers, they can’t protect their business and their business will fail. Billions has been spent to develop the PlayStation 3, and I don’t think Sony will let a group of whiny brats ruin their business.
The hacking/modding community initially wanted a removed feature restored into the system, but by some twist of fate, their supporters wanted to play free games on it. And they obliged. This is why their supporters went on to disrupting PSN which eventually lead to its intrusion. They fight for their right to do everything that they want with the console. They bought the thing, that means they can fiddle with it. Makes perfect sense on the surface, but if you look at how homebrew is used nowadays, it’s not. They want to have fun with the games without paying for them. They to play with their friends online without giving anything to do those who worked hard on developing the games. They want to customization in their machine. They feel that information is ‘free’ and should be shared with everyone else at the expense of the industry that they’re involved in. This self-entitlement now deprives the legitimate users of the entertainment they paid for.
One’s rights end when the other’s right begins.
If there’s one interest that is acceptable, it has to be Sony’s. The world we are in today revolves around capitalism and consumerism to get its cogs turning. A ‘Free For All’ world not only brings about catastrophe to the ones playing by the rules, it also brings anarchy to the system where everybody wants to have a piece of the fun, at the expense of those who want to have funÂ legitimately. That’s not saying the current system is without its flaws, however, to prefer a system that is chaotic and reckless is stupid. And also, If there’s one interest in the wrong, it has to be the hacking/modding community’s. Killing the system won’t solve anything, but instead, it will cause more problems. They are really the ones to be blamed in all this. If they just didn’t have their egos stroked and their sense of entitlement kept in check, these interests won’t be clashing with each other.
So far, Sony as a company hasn’t really plunged since the data leak, but this may cause Sony’s entertainment division to take a hit.Â After everything goes back to normal, there may be a few more cracks in their relationship with gamers and Sony will have to regain trust from its consumers once again. A more secure network and improved service can do the job. And then everyone will forget it happened. The path to recovery is long for both Sony and the gamers, but I personally don’t see a plunge in PS3 sales or PSN subscriptions. 2011 is still a good year for the PlayStation 3, after all.
The hacking/modding community and Anonynous will have to be careful with everything they do as the US government is now watching over them. From internet nuisance, Anonymous has now become a sort of threat to US national security. Â Bad thing is their fight for freedom to information and speech is the one closing in on them. Maybe the government should take them seriously from now on and treat them close to terrorists. I also find it funny that Anonymous wear Guy Fawke‘s mask without understanding the nature of his character. It’s as if they never read Â (read: READ) V For Vendetta. The hacking/modding community will do their stuff as always. They can’t be stopped anyway. It’s just someone has to draw the line on them. Is Sony going to draw that line? Nobody is sure.
The console giants will have to make more secure consoles and networks for the next generation. They must also make them developer friendly, both for independent devs and AAA devs, like what Xbox Live Marketplace is doing right now. I’ve always felt this is where Sony lacks — a close affinity to its userbase. They may consider the possibility of game modding and servers dedicated to modded games just like PC gaming. Implementing tighter DRM is well on the way too, which will screw everyone else on the ass.
And for the gamer who just wants to shoot stuff in Black Ops? For those who bought games via PlayStation Network, I’m pretty sure everything will be alright after service is restored but this fiasco has left a huge scar on Sony that it won’t go away until their next-gen console is released. Sony should soon implement a new currency system for PlayStation Network, like integrating PayPal as its payment system aside from the use of redeem cards to buy things online. Doing this will make things a bit more easier and safer for the paying customer, without having to worry about their credit card getting out in the open.
There are lots to be learned from this experience. The question now is: How is everyone going to cope after all this ends?