I feel very, very bad for diehard Sony fans and supporters right now. If you don't follow gaming or tech news, on April 20th Sony took down their Playstation Network (PSN) in response to an 'intrusion' on their San Diego database. The PSN is the Sony equivalent of XBox Live; that is, it is their online system that connects consoles and allows people to play cooperatively over their internet connection. They bragged that it was "free XBox Live".
The PSN was taken down without warning and it was a few days of vague and little information before Sony came out to say that customer credit/debit card numbers, addresses, emails, and even possibly phone numbers had been compromised in the attack. They are working on rebuilding a new PSN that is much more secure, apparently. Three weeks in and there's still no online compatability for PlayStation users.
But it gets better.
Just yesterday (Monday the 2nd) Sony announced that it was taking down their PC online system, Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) because it had also been included in the security breach. So much for Everquest and DC Universe. In addition to the millions of PSN customers, SOE customers are now scrambling to cancel credit cards and change all their passwords. Several thousand out-of-country "outdated" accounts have also been compromised. Sony is now looking at near 100 million possibly hacked accounts. They know the information has been taken, and now they are working on contacting everyone who was effected.
The FBI as well as several others are assisting Sony's investigation of the attack, and Sony is offering several "welcome back" goodies for customers who return to using their service (whenever it goes back up). For SOE users, a free month on top of their regular subscriptions and they have said they'll match an extra day for every day that SOE is down. In the case of PSN users, whose online service was provided for free already, apparently there will be a few free download-able goodies.
Meanwhile, Microsoft and Nintendo fanatics are taking this time to gloat and sit on their high horses while some Sony users are apparently considering switching to XBox. Sure, you may be paying for it, but I will say that I have been a Live member for close to three years now, and I have never had an issue with the service being taken down.
Speculation as to the spawning of "spear phishing" (yes, pronounced "fishing") scams and rumors of the so far unknown attacker trying to sell the stolen information back to Sony abound, although that last one has been stoutly denied by Sony employees.
I feel even worse for Sony, who is probably foundering in a sea of horrible situations right now, even as they try to fix the engines and patch the holes.
Note: 'Phishing' is the term used when someone is trying to scam you into giving out personal information like credit cards or passwords. Often these are done under the guise of a large company. 'Spear Phishing' is apparently a highly refined version of this, wherein the scammer has such detailed information that they can create a very personal angle of attack. That's my guess anyway, first time I've heard phishing with spear added on.
(When it hasn't been hacked)
~Playstation ad slogan