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Sony PlayStation Network Won't be Back Online for Weeks

May 9, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP

It could be the end of the month before Sony's PlayStation Network is back online.   According to a Bloomberg report, Sony is adopting an improved security system in the wake of one of the largest hacks in Internet history.  The company plans to have the PlayStation Network, which has been offline since April 20, restarted by May 31.

As we've reported previously, Sony learned on April 19 that the PlayStation Network and Qtriocity services had been compromised, but did not inform users until April 26.  On May 2, it announced that information belonging to users of the Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) service had also been accessed. The information that was hacked could include credit card numbers, addresses, user names and any other contact info.  Sony PlayStation Network hack has now grown to ensnare more than 100 million users of the PlayStation Network, Qtriocity and SOE networks.

Sony hasn't been able to confirm one way or another if users' credit card information was stolen in the hack.  But there are reports that parties claiming to have possession of such information were trying to sell it on underground Internet forums.

Last Sunday, Sony Computer Entertainment America chairman, Kazuo Hirai, had said the company had hoped to have at least the PlayStation Network back within a week, with all services back up by the end of the month.  But the SOE break in appears to have changed the plan. 

"We were unaware of the extent of the attack on Sony Online Entertainment servers, and we are taking this opportunity to conduct further testing of the incredibly complex system,” reads a post on the PlayStation blog from Patrick Seybold, Sony’s senior director, Corporate Communications & Social Media.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Justice Department has now entered the fray, and is officially investigating the Sony security breach.  During a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department had opened "investigations with regard to those hacking situations that have gotten publicity over the last few weeks, the Sony incident among them."

Sony has said that its investigation into the hack found evidence that the breach occurred while it was defending itself from denial-of-service attacks by the Internet activist group Anonymous.  As we reported previously, Sony said that it found in its investigation that the hackers planted a file on a server named "Anonymous" with the words "We are Legion," the tagline for the group.

"Whether those who participated in the denial-of-service attacks were conspirators or whether they were simply duped into providing cover for a very clever thief, we may never know," Kaz Hirai said in a letter to House subcommittee on commerce, manufacturing and trade last week.

Anonymous has, however, denied any involvement, and issued a statement over the weekend that implied Sony was aware of PlayStation Network security problems long before the hack occurred.

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