Update: As of 6pm reliable sources are reporting credit card information probably has been compromised on the PSN. This means that if you use the PSN, hackers probably have your credit card information. You should probably read this article, and then look to the bottom of the page for some advice on what to do.
The PSN (Playstation Network) is still experiencing technical problems this week. This is a very unfortunate problem for PS3 owners, especially when you consider that the PSN service stopped working last week. Last Friday, we saw that Sony said these technical problems affecting both the PSN and the Qriocity musical service were being caused by “An external intrusion,” which many people initially interpreted as a form of piracy caused by hackers. This was particularly true considering that from Sony’s legal point of view the PS3 recently experienced many forms of high-publicity online piracy associated with the PS3.
The really stressful dilemma with these PSN troubles is that Sony claims there may be personal data that may have been “compromised” on the PSN. Compromised is a word that has a very large scope, which is a bit disturbing to some people. Does this mean that personal data such as screen names has been compromised by gaming thieves? Or does this mean that personal data such as credit card information has been compromised by financial thieves?
Based on the way this situation was recently described on Sony’s Playstation Blog, it appears that Sony did recognize what was happening fairly quickly – motivating them to shut down the PSN service right away. Let’s just hope no form of problems end up haunting the users of the PSN. When personal information is stolen and abused, it really is annoying to people in the 21st century.
Regrettably, as of April 26, 2011, Sony is still saying they do not have an update or time frame when the PSN or Qriocity services will be functioning correctly online again. Thankfully, Patrick Seybold, speaking on behalf of Sony, has said that he is aware of the fact that PS3 owners are waiting for additional information regarding when the PSN and Qriocity services will be online again. Although the PSN online gaming environment is still down, at least Sony is aware of the fact that consumers aren’t happy. Sony’s public statements suggest they are doing their best to fix the problem.
Originally, many people thought these online problems were being caused by another group of high-publicity hackers that had breached the PSN again. However, most industry analysts now believe Sony is having some technical problems internally with their online servers. This seems like a reasonable theory considering there are quite a few PS3 games scheduled for release soon. Perhaps one of these external disc-based games has caused some internal compatibility issues with the online servers.
Many gamers point out this could not have happened at a worse time for Sony. There was a recent banking holiday in Europe, which meant gamers had plenty of time to play online. Plus, Microsoft recently gave all Xbox 360 owners in Europe a free weekend of Xbox Live service in order to try and set a world record in online gaming. This really took a lot of attention away from the PS3 and shifted it towards the Xbox 360 in parts of the world that do not speak the English language.
Let’s hope Sony can get these problems with the PSN online service solved quickly. A lot of PS3 owners are very disappointed right now, since they can’t play online with their friends anymore. Kids at school and adults at work that enjoy talking about videogames aren’t talking about playing games online on their PS3. This certainly helps the competition, especially when you consider Microsoft is currently running a beta test online with this year’s most-anticipated game of all – Gears of War 3.
Controversy is a website that will keep you updated on the status of the PSN online service. We will let you know when the PSN service starts working properly again.
UPDATE (6:30pm 4/26/2011)
Many websites have confirmed that the PSN has in fact been compromised in ways that put credit card data of PS3 owners at risk. My best advice right now is for you to take a look at the great article on IGN that talks about "How to Protect Yourself." You can take a look at this great article here.
For now, I can briefly give you some tips on how to monitor your credit information. First, monitor your credit cards that have been used with the PSN service. You can easily do this online in the same way you pay credit cards online. If you see that something was purchased that you didn't buy, make sure and report it to the phone number on the back of your credit card. As long as you do this within the appropriate time period (usually 60 days), you will not be required to pay for this illegal purchase. Also, by reporting the illegal purchase, you will be helping to track down the hackers.
Second, make sure that you try to keep track of when your credit card statements normally arrive in the mail. If you suddenly realize "Hey, my credit card statement should have arrived in the mail by now," it means your statement was either lost in the mail or sent to a different address by a hacker. This needs to be brought to the attention of the credit card company right away so they can find out what is going on in a way that makes it so you are not charged for things you didn't buy.
Finally, if you start receiving credit card bills from cards you didn't previously have, if you start receiving calls from debt collectors, or if you are declined approval for credit cards, car loans, or mortgages that you should have been approved of, it may indicate your identity has been stolen. I strongly suggest you visit that article on IGN in order to learn more. Whenever a company like Sony allows software piracy and hacking to occur on this level, it really is an unfortunate scenario that costs consumers a lot of time and money.