Wednesday, 27 April 2011

PSN: Hacked

When the Playstation network went offline a week ago the gaming masses shrugged their collective shoulders.  This was nothing new for Sony, we got used to outages back in the early days of the console.  By Friday of last week it was still down and rumours were rife of a hack by Anonymous which was swiftly denied.

Yesterday evening with pressure mounting for Sony to say anything at all they announced that their network had been compromised and the details of millions of users was at risk.  Not just your name and address but your birthdate and potentially your card details.

As a gamer and a long time fan of Sony's console I can't help but feel more than a pang of disappointment in how Sony have handled the situation, although frankly it shouldn't come as a surprise.  They set themselves up as the friendly, approachable giant of the console industry but often communication is based on rumour and speculation rather than fact.  How many updates has the PS3 had in its four year life?  I have no idea, but it's been a lot.  Often the reasons for the update aren't clear, with hidden upgrades or at times things taken away from the machine with no warning.

Clearly the network was not as secure as any of us had a right to believe although apparently this is as much the fault of the gaming fraternity as it is Sony's.  Log into an online banking site and it's a two part process.  You feel confident in the security as a result of entering not one but two passwords and you don't mind the minor inconvenience.  But turn on your PS3 or your XBox and you want the network to be their immediately.  That means that your password and username don't need to be entered every time you turn on your console, the details are held on the machine and the network and that means that they aren't as secure.

In a world where technology is king and we crave faster and faster networks for our devices.  We don't want to have to enter our passwords every time we log into our favourite social networking sites and because we use so many different sites we use the same passwords for all.  Buying from Amazon, logging into Facebook or Twitter, banking online or logging into email?  Chances are on most of those sites your password is the same because you want to do it quickly.

If the PSN Network hack has taught me anything it's how bad an idea the shared password is.  Luckily my PS3 password is not my usual one.  Have I cancelled my card?  No.  Although I have rung my bank and had a reassuring conversation with someone in Scotland.

Which was nice.