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If you’re one of the 77 million registered users on Sony’s PlayStation Network, your personal and confidential information may have been compromised during a security breach. According to Sony, between April 17 and 19, they discovered an intrusion, and shut down their PlayStation Network services on the evening of April 20. They waited days before announcing the reason behind what appeared to be a network failure, stating that they first had to study it, and understand the extent of what happened.

Sony has not been very forthcoming on the extent of the compromise, citing an on-going investigation as the reason for being so tight lipped. According to the FAQ on the intrusion, they can’t tell us how it happened, why it happened, who was behind it, the extent of the intrusion, or how long it will take to restore the network services.

Regardless of Sony’s reluctance to divulge details, we do know that by April 19, Sony realised that the PlayStation Network and Qriocity services had been hacked, although the how of it all still remains unclear. More importantly, it would seem that PSN users’ personal information is at risk, including names, addresses, email addresses, birth dates and login information. If you have made any purchases using your credit card, your credit card details could also have been compromised, with the exception of your three digit secret code. Sony however has not confirmed any of these details, listing them only as possibilities.

All PSN accounts are inaccessible until Sony brings the network back up, so while you can’t change your password just yet, that is the first thing you should do the minute the network is back up. In the meantime, if you tend to use the same password on all of your accounts, it would be an advisable precaution to change passwords on any of your connected accounts, particularly your email account.

There are certain steps that you can take to protect yourself and your information in the event of another intrusion of this kind. The first rule is never to use the same password on all of your accounts. While it may be easy and convenient, it is anything but safe. If you have a hard time keeping track of all of your passwords, you can always use a password manager Password Manager Battle Royale: Who Will End Up On Top? Password Manager Battle Royale: Who Will End Up On Top? Read More to access your accounts. Another guideline to keep in mind is to make your passwords difficult to crack. Use a combination of upper-case and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols, to ensure the safety of your accounts, or better yet, use a password generator 5 Free Password Generators For Nearly Unhackable Passwords 5 Free Password Generators For Nearly Unhackable Passwords Read More .

Sony is also warning users to be on the look out for emails claiming to be from them. Don’t fall for phishing scams asking you for your Sony credentials as they have clearly announced that they will not be sending out any emails of the sort. In general, when you receive an email claiming to be from a service you use, always check the email address it came from, and avoid clicking links provided in these emails. Sony is also warning you to be wary of any telephone and postal scams asking you to reveal any personal information.

As far as your credit card information is concerned, Sony’s statement is anything but reassuring, advising you to keep an eye out for unusual transactions on your bank account.

If you’re looking for more ways to stay safe online, be sure to check out the following guides:

5 Tips and Tricks to Avoid Facebook Phishing Scams 5 Tips & Tricks To Avoid Facebook Phishing Scams 5 Tips & Tricks To Avoid Facebook Phishing Scams Read More
Get Instant Alerts Of New Computer Viruses & Phishing Emails Get Instant Alerts Of New Computer Viruses & Phishing Emails Get Instant Alerts Of New Computer Viruses & Phishing Emails Read More

Are you one of the affected Playstation Network users? Do you think Sony should been faster to announce the breach? Let us know in the comments.

Image credit: Declan Jewell

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  1. Aubrey_ipod
    May 23, 2011 at 8:57 pm

     What?!? I hate how somebody's credit card info could be taken and all they have to say is 
    sorry for the inconvience? Thats not right at all.And I'm about to get a PS3,And I don't want my dad's info stolen.Sony you really are smart. Also it took a week to figure out something was wrong.I hope you guys are reading these comments because millions of people are pissed off I'd rather spend 60 dollars a year then get my fathers information stolen.
    PS don't let it happen again or all your PS3 buyers are not going to buy your PS4.

  2. Sadsad
    April 28, 2011 at 2:38 pm


  3. Cross Country Home Services
    April 28, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Sony is trust able company..Sony has not been very forthcoming on the extent of the compromise, citing an on-going investigation as the reason for being so tight lipped. ..

  4. Jordan
    April 28, 2011 at 7:05 am

    "We will not share your details with third parties" Suuurrrreeee >_>

  5. Matt
    April 27, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    I personally like how they discovered the intrusion somewhere between the 17th and19th but didn't shut it down until the evening of the 20th. Nothing like seeing it, and then just sitting on it.

  6. Scutterman
    April 27, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    I was soured on Sony when they blocked PS2 backwards compatibility. I was discouraged when they brought out the Move controllers, as they were obviously just playing catchup and not innovating. With this I'll certainly be removing my card details at first opportunity and I'll seriously consider moving away from Sony when I chose to get a new console.

    Here's hoping that Nintendo's plans for a hardcore console doesn't get swamped with kiddie/family games and gets some serious offerings for the rest of the community...

  7. Joeeyy313
    April 27, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    I feel as though Sony have messed up big time here! First I know there are hackers for almost everything but for something so large (77 Million) personal details to be accessed?? Come how do they store them? In plain text??

    And also to have waited 6 DAYS to tell us that our accounts may have been comprised?? Just think of all the bank transactions that can take place in 6 days from 70 million credit cards! I've always been a fan of Sony, owning each of their consoles but this is just riduclous!

    Also they appeared to have no idea what was going on! It took them a few days to admit/figure out there had been an "external intrusion"!

    And to give no timeframe? Surely they know it would be better to say "Sorry this may take 2 weeks to fix. Sorry for any inconvenience. We would like ideas for a new feature that we will add during this downtime" Now if they did I'm sure people would be much happier than they are now.

    For me personally I already know I've been hacked as my email address is already sending spam to almost 1000 contacts!

    Sorry for posting such a long comment but I am annoyed with Sony. (They are saying it could cost them 24 Billion) WOAH GOOD LUCK

    • pceasies
      April 27, 2011 at 10:35 pm

      A lot of times they are salted and hashed, but things like credit cards can only be encrypted.
      (Hash is one way, encryption is reversible)
      If the hacker got the encryption keys as well they can decrypt everything instantly. They can use rainbow tables/brute force on the passwords and crack anything weak in a few days time. It sounds like they knew what they were doing as it appears Sony has no idea what happened, just someone gained unauthorized access.

      • Scutterman
        April 27, 2011 at 11:14 pm

        Funnily enough, with the power of the PS3 they can (fairly) easily be clustered to make a super-computer that can crack such hashes and encryption.

        On topic though... Not only was their security lax enough to allow someone in, but their detection was far sub par. Such a vast volume of data being transferred out without anyone picking up on it for a week... Did they think they were untouchable?

        • pceasies
          April 28, 2011 at 12:25 am

          Obviously they aren't that prepared when it comes to security. From their posts it looks like the techs have no idea what happened, just someone was getting into important stuff. It says they firmed a private security firm to handle it (incompetency?)

        • Scutterman
          April 28, 2011 at 5:40 pm

          Well, obviously their security measures didn't work, so they could do nothing but get an outside view. Besides, now they can use words like "independent investigation"...

        • pceasies
          April 28, 2011 at 7:18 pm

          Someone told me they hacked into an older server that hadn't been updated in a while and were able to gain access.

        • Scutterman
          April 28, 2011 at 8:19 pm

          That's negligent in itself, if it's true. I'm not sure how much of a distributed data set would be available from one server (not my speciality) but I find it hard to believe that Sony would leave a single server in a cluster vulnerable.

        • pceasies
          April 28, 2011 at 9:13 pm

          If they are running Linux (which they probably are) it probably just didn't have the latest OS version installed. Being open source, most hacks have a good amount of detail so they probably used a known exploit to gain shell access and then from there had access to the whole network. That's my guess.

        • Scutterman
          April 28, 2011 at 9:42 pm

          I'd guess Unix rather than Linux, and they probably just keep a stable version and patch it rather than upgrading. Open source has the advantage of having known fixes soon after known exploits. Personally I'm waiting for word from Sony themselves before speculating too much, though I doubt they'll give much detail.