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Sony's Ship of Fail

They're at it again.

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Update on PlayStation Network and Qriocity

'Thank you for your patience while we work to resolve the current outage of PlayStation Network & Qriocity services.'

Outage? They got hacked. Customer passwords were likely stored in the clear. Customers got their credit cards hacked.

'We are currently working to send a similar message to the one below via email to all of our registered account holders regarding a compromise of personal information as a result of an illegal intrusion on our systems.'

Stop focusing on the illegality of it. It was a stupid intrusion. In a class with your idiotic DRM rootkits, your silly CD copy protection, and just about anything else you've done of late.

'These malicious actions have also had an impact on your ability to enjoy the services...'

Oh stop blaming the hackers. You're supposed to be smarter than them. You're also supposed to possess better judgement. The impact is due to your blatant unforgivable and recidivist stupidity. It is you people who have harmed your customers, not the hackers. Now you're trying to get your poor customers to focus exclusively on the 'illegal' activities of 'malicious' hackers when they should instead be focusing on the 'pack' of 'morons' running your 'company'.

'We're working day and night to ensure it is done as quickly as possible.'

Yeah right. You're doing nothing of the sort. You waited a full week before alerting anyone to what was going on - a full week before you alerted people to start scrambling to save their security info.

Here's the Sony statement. It makes a lugubrious read - it's been called a 'wall of text'. Note the parts in bold. A summary analysis follows.

Valued PlayStation Network/Qriocity Customer:

We have discovered that between April 17 and April 19, 2011, certain PlayStation Network and Qriocity service user account information was compromised in connection with an illegal and unauthorized intrusion into our network. In response to this intrusion, we have:

  1. Temporarily turned off PlayStation Network and Qriocity services;
  2. Engaged an outside, recognized security firm to conduct a full and complete investigation into what happened; and
  3. Quickly taken steps to enhance security and strengthen our network infrastructure by re-building our system to provide you with greater protection of your personal information.

We greatly appreciate your patience, understanding and goodwill as we do whatever it takes to resolve these issues as quickly and efficiently as practicable.

Although we are still investigating the details of this incident, we believe that an unauthorized person has obtained the following information that you provided: name, address (city, state, zip), country, email address, birthdate, PlayStation Network/Qriocity password and login, and handle/PSN online ID. It is also possible that your profile data, including purchase history and billing address (city, state, zip), and your PlayStation Network/Qriocity password security answers may have been obtained. If you have authorized a sub-account for your dependent, the same data with respect to your dependent may have been obtained. While there is no evidence at this time that credit card data was taken, we cannot rule out the possibility. If you have provided your credit card data through PlayStation Network or Qriocity, out of an abundance of caution we are advising you that your credit card number (excluding security code) and expiration date may have been obtained.

For your security, we encourage you to be especially aware of email, telephone, and postal mail scams that ask for personal or sensitive information. Sony will not contact you in any way, including by email, asking for your credit card number, social security number or other personally identifiable information. If you are asked for this information, you can be confident Sony is not the entity asking. When the PlayStation Network and Qriocity services are fully restored, we strongly recommend that you log on and change your password. Additionally, if you use your PlayStation Network or Qriocity user name or password for other unrelated services or accounts, we strongly recommend that you change them, as well.

To protect against possible identity theft or other financial loss, we encourage you to remain vigilant, to review your account statements and to monitor your credit reports. We are providing the following information for those who wish to consider it:

U.S. residents are entitled under U.S. law to one free credit report annually from each of the three major credit bureaus. To order your free credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call toll-free (877) 322-8228.

We have also provided names and contact information for the three major U.S. credit bureaus below. At no charge, U.S. residents can have these credit bureaus place a 'fraud alert' on your file that alerts creditors to take additional steps to verify your identity prior to granting credit in your name. This service can make it more difficult for someone to get credit in your name. Note, however, that because it tells creditors to follow certain procedures to protect you, it also may delay your ability to obtain credit while the agency verifies your identity. As soon as one credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, the others are notified to place fraud alerts on your file. Should you wish to place a fraud alert, or should you have any questions regarding your credit report, please contact any one of the agencies listed below.

Experian: 888-397-3742; www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
Equifax: 800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
TransUnion: 800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

You may wish to visit the web site of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission at www.consumer.gov/idtheft or reach the FTC at 1-877-382-4357 or 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580 for further information about how to protect yourself from identity theft. Your state Attorney General may also have advice on preventing identity theft, and you should report instances of known or suspected identity theft to law enforcement, your State Attorney General, and the FTC. For North Carolina residents, the Attorney General can be contacted at 9001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-9001; telephone (877) 566-7226; or www.ncdoj.gov. For Maryland residents, the Attorney General can be contacted at 200 St. Paul Place, 16th Floor, Baltimore, MD 21202; telephone: (888) 743-0023; or www.oag.state.md.us.

We thank you for your patience as we complete our investigation of this incident, and we regret any inconvenience. Our teams are working around the clock on this, and services will be restored as soon as possible. Sony takes information protection very seriously and will continue to work to ensure that additional measures are taken to protect personally identifiable information. Providing quality and secure entertainment services to our customers is our utmost priority. Please contact us at 1-800-345-7669 should you have any additional questions.


Sony Computer Entertainment and Sony Network Entertainment

Whoa what a mouthful. So ordinary customers now have to scramble to secure their credit accounts and credit ratings and those dudes at Sony do exactly what? And how are lines going to be overloaded with so many people ringing at once? And these credit card companies are going to work overtime to clean up another Sony mess?

Note they're saying there's an increased risk your credit info's been compromised if you submitted it through their system. What does that tell you?

And note the date of publication and compare to the dates for the breach: the breach was to have occurred 'between April 17 and April 19 2011' but they didn't tell anyone to safeguard their security info until 26 April - one week later.

And finally note the size of the blowout: 75 million or more accounts. Let's hear them mouth the famous Apple/Jobs mantras: we take security and privacy very seriously.

This is the quality of executive management at Sony, folks. They should be identified, outed, and tarred and feathered. Let them be and they'll be back to do it again.

The Blowout

Of course what is needed is to bitch slap those greedos at Sony so they really do take people's safety more seriously. People have an exaggerated (an unwarranted) trust in big companies, thinking their personal sphere is excellently protected by teams of Einstein clones when the exact opposite is often the case: those people aren't smarter that you - they're dumber than you.

Of course stupidity can be quantified in myriad ways. Absolute lack of brainpower is of course one way - although hardware and software engineers would likely not qualify (whilst management are prime candidates). Putting together such a hardware and software system is fantastic; but all it takes is one idiot to say 'so what' to passwords stored in the clear, one idiot to say 'they'll never penetrate our defences', one idiot to say 'we don't have to check our security that often'. That one idiot can spoil the party. That one idiot's been working overtime for Sony the past 10-15 years. Just ask Ed Felten or Mark Russinovich.

The industry will take whatever steps it needs to protect itself and protect its revenue streams. It will not lose that revenue stream, no matter what. Sony is going to take aggressive steps to stop this. We will develop technology that transcends the individual user. We will firewall Napster at source - we will block it at your cable company. We will block it at your phone company. We will block it at your ISP. We will firewall it at your PC. These strategies are being aggressively pursued because there is simply too much at stake.
 - Steve Heckler, Sony US senior VP, August 2000

Consider this.

Sony once had a CD copy protection scheme that installed rootkits on people's computers. So there had to be an idiot somewhere in Sony who knew what this was all about and gave the go-ahead anyway. Then they had to contact some dimwit company that promised them a functional system even though it's totally impossible - it only worked on Windows PCs and only then if you didn't hold down a shift key as you inserted the disc. So some other dimwit at the supplier company had to lie to Sony reps that yes, they could build such as system. And then the engineers at the supplier had to drink STFU by the bucket because they for sure understood what nonsense it was. That the rootkit was so imbecilic in its design that hackers everywhere started exploiting it makes matters only worse.

Sony, world; world, Sony.

It took a lot of teamwork to put together the Sony DRM rootkit fiasco. And at most points of juncture it was a 'suit' in one of the corporations that was no more than a bag of wind who pushed for that project - a project that cost Sony a lot in terms of street cred. And that 'suit' is the overworked idiot Felten and others have outed time and again.

Class Action

Techdirt aren't kind towards Sony. And they shouldn't be either.

Sony Admits That Playstation Hacker Got Tons Of Info, Including Passwords

You hear that sound? That's the sound of a whole bunch of class action lawsuits being filed against Sony as we speak. I'd like to say it's a huge surprise that Sony would even store passwords and credit card data in a place where it could easily be extracted like that, but it's really not. This, after all, is the company that made the word 'rootkit' famous, and spent the last few months wasting more resources in a quixotic legal campaign against a guy who added back a feature to the PS3 that Sony had deleted. Perhaps if it spent a little more time actually protecting its users rather than fighting silly battles, there wouldn't be issues like this.

This Sony breach happened not because there are people who hack or because Sony's engineers aren't capable of building a secure system but because Sony over and over again insist on using an idiot to manage things and make decisions.

'Korbei83' writes.

'If you have compromised my credit information, you will never receive it again.'

And that's good. But it's still missing the point. A sea change is needed to change the public perception of Sony and most major corporations at this point. They should never receive anyone's credit information ever again. Not for now. Not until they start bending over backwards to demonstrate they can take proper care of other people's money: transparent security systems, regular overhauls, external audits, repeated hacker challenges, prolific but easily understood policy statements that eschew security through obscurity, formal indemnity programmes for customers, and so forth.

This is banking business. The classic kind. This involves discretion and caution. Sony suits aren't trained bankers. They're bungling irresponsible morons who never learned the rules of the game and don't seem to want to either.

Excuse me while I go change my password. Oh wait. I can't.
 - 'Korbei83'
Also, in another Email, Sony states that there will be NO COMPENSATION to PlaystationPlus subscribers what-so-ever!!!
 - 'sid4peeps'
On that topic.. when you say that our password data may have been accessed, I hope you mean that our hashed, non-reversible password data may have been accessed.. right? You didn't have our passwords in plaintext on your servers, did you?
 - 'jonabbey'
What about our trophies? Are they safe?
 - 'Tgebbs'

See Also
New Yorkers for Fair Use: Sony exec: We will beat Napster
Techdirt: Lawsuits And Laws On The Way In Response To Sony Data Breach
Techdirt: Sony Admits That Playstation Hacker Got Tons Of Info, Including Passwords

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