Fast facts – PlayStation Network security breach

The who, what, where, when and how of Sony’s PSN hacking debacle. Abbreviated

It’s been a week

The first anyone knew of trouble in gamer’s paradise was on the 20th of April. As itchy trigger fingers tried to sign in for an online frag-fest, they were met with a message saying the PlayStation Network was “undergoing maintenance”.

It’s not general maintenance

Two days later, Sony ‘fessed up, citing an “external intrusion” – denial speak for “we’ve got hackers”. Turns out that the spread went beyond PSN, too. Sony’s new media streaming service – Qriocity – was also hacked.

Bad accounts

By hacked, we mean someone got in. They also got out… with a haul of users’ details, including passwords, profile information, emails, birthdays, physical billing addresses and buying histories. Basically, everything you’ve ever told PlayStation Network about yourself.

Don’t pause, restart

Sony has been handing out advice to users on how to put out fraud alerts and freeze their credit files. Scary? Yes. And it could be global. Check the email account you use for PSN for notices from Sony. And check your bank statement.

Game over

Some games aren’t working because they need to check in to PSN for trophy sync or phone home to prevent piracy. You won’t be able to play those again until PSN and Qriocity are back up.

Push to return coin

Sony’s keeping mum about refunds for subscriptions and DLC at the moment, but it’s not ruling it out. Since it’s the only potential silver lining in this fiasco, we think it’ll be hard for the company not to bow to pressure. Some PSN credit wouldn’t go amiss, at the least.

To the future

Sony’s going to update when it’s fixed the broken door, changed the locks and got its stall set out again. We’re confident this is a one-off, but it should ring alarm bells for the many, many people and companies to whom you entrust your personal data every day.

Update #1 [28-04-11]

Sony's hinted that PSN and Qriocity could be fit to fly in less than a week's time. The credit card database was encrypted, so your data might be safer than thought, but we'd suggest anyone with the skills to open up the back end of Sony's user playground might have a reasonable crack at unlocking the encryption, too. The restart will probably force a system update and password reset on all users.

For the latest info, keep an eye on PlayStation's official page.

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