May 15, 2011
**EDIT** PSN is back in most regions as of 7pm GMT 15th May 2011. Although full service of the Sony Networks is due to occur by the 31st of May 2011***
At midnight GMT on 15th May 2011 PSN launched a mandatory update in preparation for the relaunch of the Playstation Network Service for gaming. The update is thought to ensure that only PS3 machines with legitimate Sony firmware will be able to access the service. In addition to this, once the update is installed, users are forced to change their PSN passwords for security reasons as user passwords were one of the stolen pieces of data in the massive information theft from the Sony servers in mid April.
There is still no information on when PSN is likely to be back online but the update seems to indicate that it will be very soon. On the flipside it’s a fairly certain bet that those determined to jailbreak the PS3 (instead of just building a machine themselves to run whatever software they wish) will already be examining the update in order to attempt to circumvent it.
Although the update is a step in the right direction, the length of time that PSN and Sony Services have been offline has already hit the company with between a 2 and 4% drop in stock value, plus a reported surge in trade-ins of the Sony PS3 console for Microsoft Xbox360s. In the UK alone it has been reported that trade ins have increased by 200%.
Sony will undoubtedly recover from this, but it has definitely harmed their commercial reputation with consumers and temporarily stall their competition with Microsoft in the console market. Microsoft has always led the console consumer marketing race by launching their Xbox360 first and offering it at a lower price point than the Playstation3.
Chasing their tails
In addition to the consumer angle, as of the 14th of May 2011 security flaws were still being discovered in Sony’s network as reported in this Reuters article: Expert Finds “Security Flaws in Sony’s Networks”. The article describes how John Bumgarner, chief technology officer of the partially government-funded U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit, “google hacked” his way in to a number of sensitive files without actually using any real hacking techniques. Mikko Hypponen of the computer security company F-Secure also found similar flaws and has claimed that Sony have been chasing their tails for the past three weeks.
The information that has been uncovered by these security experts has been described as “a potential bonanza for hackers.”