The past five days of PlayStation Network down time was sparked by a new PS3 hack that let users download PSN content for free spurring Sony to pull the plug. That’s according to new a speculative report that suggests the release of a hacked custom firmware which enables the downloading of PSN content for free is at the root of the ongoing issue. The report highlights that a custom firmware, known as ‘Rebug’, was released on March 31 which, in brief, gives retail PS3s most of the options and functionality of a debug (or developer) PS3 unit. A week later, tutorials appeared detailing a way in which users could use this firmware to download PSN content for free using fake (NOT stolen) credit card numbers.
Apparently, hackers “found out that you could provide fake CC# info and the authenticity of the information was never checked as you were on Sony’s private developer PSN network (essentially a network that Sony trusted).” Piracy ensued, which is what triggered Sony’s decision to shut down PSN, speculates the report, going against common suspicion that the severs had simply failed due to a direct attack from disgruntled hackers. The report also says “no one’s personal information was accessible via this hack. Not to say they couldn’t get it, but no one is admitting to it being available,” backing up other reports today that the risk of credit card theft via PSN is ‘not substantial’. Gamers who use the Sony PlayStation Network were unable to connect to the service on Monday, the fifth consecutive day of interrupted service, after it was infiltrated by hackers last week.
On Friday, Patrick Seybold, senior director for corporate communications at Sony, wrote a short post on the company’s Web site stating that the PlayStation Network had been compromised on Wednesday by an “external intrusion.” After the attack, Mr. Seybold said, Sony had turned off the PlayStation service to investigate. “We are doing all we can to resolve this situation quickly, and we once again thank you for your patience,” Mr. Seybold wrote. “We will continue to update you promptly as we have additional information to share.” Sony did not respond to a request for comment about the shutdown and whether any of its customers’ personal information was also compromised.
The PlayStation Network connects gamers who use a PlayStation 3 or PlayStation Portable system. The Sony Qriocity service, which is used to stream audio and video to Sony devices, was also compromised in the attack. On Saturday Sony said it had decided to rebuild its network with the goal of strengthening the system’s infrastructure. “Though this task is time-consuming, we decided it was worth the time necessary to provide the system with additional security,” Sony said in a statement. Customers became frustrated over the weekend, complaining on Twitter and Sony gaming forums, as the company’s updates remained short and sporadic and there seemed to be no end in sight to the shutdown.
Mr. Seybold wrote a short follow-up post on Monday noting: “Unfortunately, I don’t have an update or timeframe to share at this point in time” regarding when the PlayStation Network would be active again.
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