Monday, April 25, 2011

PlayStation Network Outage Blamed on 'External Intrusion'


With gamers fuming, Sony hasn't said when its PlayStation Network and Qriocity music service will be back on line. But Sony said "an external extrusion" caused both services to be shut down last week. Despite speculation, the Anonymous hackers group said on its web site that it wasn't responsible for the PlayStation Network and Qriocity outage.

Sony's PlayStation Network and its Qriocity music service were still down Monday afternoon, with no word on when they will be back online. On Friday, the company reported that the downtime was caused by "an external intrusion" to both services.

Patrick Seybold, senior director of corporate communications Relevant Products/Services and social media, posted on the company's PlayStation Blog on Friday that, "in order to conduct a thorough investigation and to verify the smooth and secure Relevant Products/Services operation of our network services going forward," both PlayStation Network and Qriocity were turned last Wednesday. Sony has noted that it doesn't know the degree to which personal data Relevant Products/Services might have been compromised.

'For Once We Didn't Do It'

On Monday, Seybold posted that he knows users are "waiting for additional information on when PlayStation Network and Qriocity services will be online." He added that, "unfortunately, I don't have an update or time frame."

With several major new game titles coming out this week, the timing of the outage is particularly suspicious. Many observers have speculated that the "external intrusion" was caused by the Anonymous hacker group.

But Anonymous denies involvement, while simultaneously posting updates to its Facebook page that suggest it could have been involved. On its AnonNews web site, where anyone can post, there is a notice dated Friday titled For Once We Didn't Do It. The posting noted that, while some individual Anons could "have acted by themselves," AnonOps was not involved and "does not take responsibility for whatever has happened."

The posting added that the "more likely explanation is that Sony is taking advantage of Anonymous' previous ill will toward the company to distract users from the fact that the outage is actually an internal problem with the company's servers."

'No Qualms'

However, on Anonymous' Facebook page, the page owner posted in a discussion of the outage last week that "we have no qualms about our actions."

In early April, several Sony sites were brought down by members of Anonymous, the hacker group known for its politically oriented online attacks. The sites included Sony.com, Style.com and the U.S. site for PlayStation.

Before the attacks on the Sony sites, Anonymous had announced it would target the company because of Sony's lawsuit against a user named George Hotz. Sony had filed and received a restraining order against Hotz and other hackers for allegedly jailbreaking the PlayStation 3 game console in order to run unauthorized software such as pirated games, and for providing software tools for others to do the same.

Sony had also sought and received access to Hotz' social-media accounts, and the IP addresses of visitors to his web site. The company also obtained access to his PayPal account to see donations in support Relevant Products/Services of his jailbreaking efforts.

In an open letter to Sony, Anonymous said Sony "abused the judicial system in an attempt to censor information on how your products work." It added that the company "victimized your own customers merely for possessing and sharing information," and said these actions meant Sony had "violated the privacy of thousands."

Sony and Hotz reached a settlement several weeks ago. The terms of the agreement were not made public, although Hotz agreed to a permanent injunction.

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