Apr 26, 2011
While the rumours whizz around cyberspace to fill the void that Sony should be shovelling information in to some of the more main stream media have been doing what they do best: PANIC MONGERING!!!
“AAARRGGHH THE SKY IS FALLING AND PSN IS NEVER COMING BACK”
screamed The Wallstreet Journal.
Okay it wasn’t quite as melodramatic as that, and the actual news piece didn’t live up to the hype by simply regurgitating what everyone else already knows – PSN is down, there was some undocumented ‘external intrusion’ and Sony are rebuilding the system. But why let mediocrity get in the way of a good headline?
Meanwhile, Sony give a non-update where we’re told that PSN is still down, and it’s still a time intensive exercise to get it back up:
Posted on 25 April by James Gallagher – Blog Manager, SCEE
Countries: AE, AU, GB, IE, NZ
I know you are waiting for additional information on when PlayStation Network and Qriocity services will be online. Unfortunately, I don’t have an update or timeframe to share at this point in time. As we previously noted, this is a time intensive process and we’re working to get them back online quickly. Will keep you updated with information as it becomes available. We once again thank you for your patience.
Obviously company confidentiality prevents Sony from detailing exactly what’s going on for a number of reasons. First, it would damage their brand (although for some, the damage is already done) and secondly there is no telling how many other sites or services could be affected if this “external extrusion” got in to the wild.
However, Anonymous are vehement that they had nothing to do with the outage and if Sony points the finger at them then they’re big fat liars.
And I for one actually believe them. The reason being that they don’t really have the resources to take down a system as large and protected as PSN for an extended period of time. Even a minor exploit wouldn’t take this long to fix. You can expect a standard DDOS attack to take a major website out intermittently for a couple of hours but after a week even the hardest of thinking has to realise that there is something bigger going on and it very well may return to the work of George Hotz.
George Hotz, or GEOHOT is the hacker who unlocked the iPhone and most recently was threatened with legal action by Sony for his work on jailbreaking the PS3 console. He did actually create and release a working hack to access the internal workings of the PS3 operating system before Sony sent the suits after him (which was when Anonymous started getting involved).
There have been reports that the issue that has shut down PSN has been caused by a Custom Firmware called ReBug. Although Sony released an update that was supposed to have made it impossible to install a custom firmware, the update would only prevent that from happening on machines that have had the update. Those who wanted to run OtherOS or custom firmwares wouldn’t have downloaded the updates and….. well you should get the picture.
Essentially the ReBug custom firmware allowed users to log on to the Playstation Network as if they were developers in debug mode (sort of like the JTag on an Xbox360) but instead of general online cheating some of those running ReBug were adding funds to the PSN wallet using fake credit card details which were not being checked because they were in a trusted developer mode, and downloading content for free. This ‘free’ was the ‘stealing free’ though, rather than the ‘free free’.
As the author on the Reddit post states, the ReBug situation may not be the reason as to why PSN is down and needs to be rebuilt, but the timeline fits and with developers being blocked unless they have the most recent developer update it would seem that there may be an element of truth to it.
Until Sony makes an announcement as to what really caused (is causing) the outage and major rebuild of the system speculation and accusations will fly around cyberspace. Undoubtedly Sony will fire up PSN again, all gamers will go “WooHoo!” and the whys and wherefores will be quickly forgotten as people get back to shooting each other in the face and haddukoening each other across the screen.