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PSN Security Breach Risks

by The_Stacked_Nerd, 27th April 2011

What’s happening and how you can prevent yourself from being a victim

If you haven’t heard about or been affected by the recent PSN Network failure, you’ve probably been living in a non-internet connected cave in the Arctic somewhere. The recent attacks on Sony have been filling up N4G and have even made international news headlines, and with so much information pouring out of the media in recent days, it's hard to keep up with it. If you haven’t been glued to your screen and don’t know what’s been happening or what to do, don’t worry; we’ll explain everything…

Sony’s online service, PlayStation Network, has been inactive for almost a week now, and a lot of gamers have been getting suspicious and worried.

Many rumours and theories as to the source of the PSN shutdown have been flying around the web, but today the worst has been announced.

While at first many people thought it was a large server update, a failure, or another Anonymous DDoS attacks, it has been confirmed that a group of hackers have caused a huge data breach.

Sony has now warned customers that hackers may already have been able to obtain their:
  • Name
  • Address
  • Country
  • Date of Birth
  • PSN login and password
  • Possibly profile data
Most importantly, there is concern that credit card details (credit card numbers and expiration dates) have also been taken. While the official word on the matter is that there is no evidence to suggest this has happened, this is the most sensitive data tied to your PSN account so users need to be extra vigilant.

In short: If you have used a credit card on PSN your card details may have been obtained.

So now you know the severity of the incident, the next step is how to try and clear up the fallout.

Firstly, as soon as PSN comes back online, change your PSN password. This stops hackers
attempting to use your account directly right in their tracks. Remember, a hacker using your account isn't going to be earning extra trophies for you and ranking up on Black Ops - they're going to be taking full advantage of your account's direct link to the PS Store where they can buy anything they want with your credit, so make sure that password is changed.

But be warned - if you have used the email/password combination used on your PSN log-in for other accounts, it is essential that you change the password on the other services too, especially larger websites, such as Facebook, Amazon and eBay, as the hackers could still have access to that.

Notifying your bank and monitoring you money stream may also help catch credit fraudsters.

Sony announced via the PlayStation Blog that over 77000 peoples PSN credit card details may have been and obtained, and there have been reports of PSN users losing hundreds of dollars, pounds or whatever currency their country uses (although these reports have not been confirmed). Some financial experts are saying that you ‘should cancel your credit cards immediately’, alert your credit company that your card may have been subject to fraud, and/or consider an ID fraud monitoring service.

In addition, email addresses, as well as home addresses and phone numbers, may be used in phishing attacks. Be extremely wary of any emails, letters or phone calls from 'companies' in the coming weeks and months.

Consequent to this fiasco, Sony’s reputation has taken a large dent. Gamers are being reassured that Sony is
working around the clock to get the PSN up and running as soon as possible, and many rumours have pointed towards it being back online Friday, although officially they still “don’t have an update or timeframe to share at this point in time.”

On the upside, the maintenance Sony is carrying out will most likely not only protect our data more efficiently in the future, it will also provide a less flawed and slightly better PSN for all. Sony have said: “Our efforts to resolve this matter involve re-building our system to further strengthen our network infrastructure. Though this task is time-consuming, we decided it was worth the time necessary to provide the system with additional security".

It's also rumored that, once the fiasco is eventually over and PSN is back online, Sony is will possibly provide some kind of compensation offered to PlayStation Plus subscribers.

While there is no excuse for allowing this breach to occur, its great to hear that a newly rebuilt PSN will help prevent this situation from happening again.

My guess is that for the majority of the next week I'll be dusting off my Wii or stuck to offline gaming.

Interestingly, 'playstation network' has become the most Googled term (increase of 2,850%) in the last week, with 'PSN' placing second (increase of 1500%) and 'portal 2' placing seventh (increase of 160%)...

For up-to-date information from PSychic Gamers, visit PSN Outage Continues.

For all the official information, visit the Playstation Blog or PlayStation's Twitter or Facebook, where up-to-date information is posted.