April 19 wasn’t bad. Not 267,000-car pile-up bad. That was a fender-bender. That was a speeding ticket when you’re running 15 minutes late in rush hour. That was a funny noise when your crimp your wheels for a left turn.
April 26 was the first 20 minutes of Final Destination 2.
Suddenly, missing out on online-multiplayer SOCOM 4, Mortal Kombat and Portal 2 probably couldn’t, or at least shouldn’t have mattered less to any PlayStation Network subscriber. Suddenly, 267,000 subscribers were going Gollum over their entitled yearly gratis credit report.
When hacker(s) cracked PSN April 20 and knocked the server cold, the people with hearts and minds in the right place wondered one thing above all else: what exactly did the hacker(s) snatch and grab before the lockdown?
That’s why April 26, 2011 will probably go down as a day all the Scotch in the Highlands won’t make Sony Senior Corporate Communications and Social Media Director Patrick Seybold forget. He’s the poor soul that had to tell those 267,000 or so trusting gamers that the person or persons who Pearl Harbored PSN almost definitely escaped with users’ names, addresses, country, e-mail address, birth date, PSN/Qriocity passwords and usernames, and potentially purchase histories. Chances the breech comprimised credit card numbers and expiration dates? Juding from Seybold’s tone?
It sounds like the most pants-crapping 50-50 possibility anybody at Sony would willingly admit.
Guessing as an experienced former journalist? As a reporter, that sounds like an optimistic guess and it wouldn’t shock me one iota if Seybold was under directive to toe the “downplay” line.
Regardless of Seybold’s advice to closely monitor credit card, bank account and e-mail activity, I didn’t waste a minute canceling both my debit cards (as I wasn’t sure which I had stored for ease of purchase). Going forward, I’m guaranteed not alone as the only one who will probably never again trust Sony with securing my purchase information. Honestly, there’s an opt-out for storing those digits that everyone would do well going forward to utilize. No server, no firewall, no security measure is invincible. If it can encrypted, someone with enough time, patience and motivation can decrypt it. If hackers once every several years can bulldoze the U.S. Department of Defense firewall just to make a point and accounts have already once been lifted from a gaming server run by the world’s most prolific and powerful software giant, it was a new definition of “foolish” to spend a moment believing Sony could avert infiltration forever.
In fact, it’s a wonder it took this long. Of all the sites, it was GBAtemp.net that noted in a Feb. 17 blog cautioned that Sony’s failure to separately encrypt credit-card data left a veritable “Welcome” mat for any hacker that comes bearing the appropriate custom firmware. Oh, and jailbreakers? Those of you with units Sony hasn’t remotely fragged yet? You might be at greater risk.
This brings me to a side-point: no journalist over the age of 25 should report on matters involving gaming. I mean, EVER. Yahoo! and NBC reported that Sony getting hacked would give the Xbox 360 the obvious console-market edge.
Does it, now?
Just pick up a controller recently, Jimmy Olsen? If any fan-base has less room for smack-talk than Sony’s right now, it’s the Xbox hordes. The biggest surprise was that hackers looted 360 account data first, before the woefully under-protected PSN servers. In fact, you know who deserves a smug smirk right now?
Nintendo: so far, the only un-hacked network.
Here’s a very general news-flash, newshounds: being a paid service was never, and will never be, a magic shield. In fact, there’s probably a little more of a sense of sporting gamesmanship about cracking a Microsoft product.
Still, the media haven’t been completely off-base, either. Microsoft got it first, but Sony got it far, far worse. This has added up to data theft Sony hasn’t yet quantified (or just hasn’t made public), tremendous server down-time resulting in lost sales, and already frustrated and now paranoid and pissed gamers who will lead the charge for compensation (and as I said last time, I can’t any longer blame them). It’s very hard to imagine what anyone could do to the PlayStation brand right now that wouldn’t be worse than what it’s apparently done itself. For those wondering, though, they may well be safe from losing a civil suit over any jeopardized information. Again, if some didn’t read the legal release when Sony offered it (see the previous link for the most crucial exerpt), that isn’t Sony’s problem. Ye be warned.
But it’s very, very difficult to imagine Sony not offering some significant compensation to users. With Nintendo already touting its next console and 360 fan-boys absolutely proving who could possibly be more obnoxious . . . well, freebies and swag wouldn’t really fix a damn thing right now. But aside from fortifying security measures to something beyond those employed by a standard iPod, it would certainly beat sitting back, just saying “sorry” and doing absolutely nothing.
In the meantime, please, visit http://www.freecreditreport.com if you haven’t already obtained your once-yearly freebie and monitor your bank transactions. Whatever Sony says, replace your cards immediately. However, points to Sony for advising that users also swap out their Facebook and e-mail passwords. Keep watching GamerXChange.net for more analysis and updates.
E-mail The Sleepless One at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @sleeplesscolin. For more insomnia-addled rantings, visit http://colinsdiner.blogspot.com or http://www.geekgems.com.