Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thoughts about the PSN blackout

This is me just a few days before the PlayStation Network blackout, with my new white PS3. My wife Frances bought it for me for our fourth anniversary because my old PS3 was hanging often, raising fears of the dreaded Yellow Light of Death. (We have a long history of PlayStation love; she proposed to me with a PS3 phat a few days after its launch.) I'm smiling in the picture, but little did I know that in a few days, all my PSN info and credit card details would be stolen.

Here's my beautiful wife buying the white PS3

Fast forward to the present day, and here's what we know so far: 77 million account details and 10 million credit card details were stolen. The PSN is still down. Sony claims they have evidence that the hacker group Anonymous is behind the theft. Anonymous says it wasn't them. Meanwhile, I've held out on buying Portal 2 on the odd chance that I'll want to play online. Grrr.

The only good news is that so far there's no evidence that the hackers are doing anything with this information. And my credit card bill looks fraud free. Huge sigh of relief. That's not to say that it won't happen in the future, so I've taken precautions, and I encourage everyone affected to do the same.

1. Change all passwords associated with the email addresses used in your PSN accounts.
2. Monitor your credit card purchases.
3. Be wary of scams and phishing more than ever.
4. To be super safe, block your credit card or request for a new number.
5. In the future, use prepaid cards on the PSN, or a debit card. BDO has a "virtual card" that works like a supplementary card for the Internet (different number, smaller credit limit).

Am I pissed off? Hell yeah. At Sony? Yes, they should have made a more secure network. Reports say that the measures in place were lacking. But my anger is tempered by a number of things. 1) They're a victim too. 2) There's no such thing as an unhackable network. When you're a target, hackers will find a way to take you down. I just wish they hadn't made themselves such a big target by consumer-unfriendly actions like removing OtherOS, a move that opened the floodgates of PS3 hacking.

Am I pissed off at the hackers? Yeah, them too. What little I know of hackers is that they're mostly harmless. When it comes to the piracy scene, they're something like Robin Hood, championing the little guy in parts of the world where the intellectual property scheme of the west makes little economic sense, or taking a stand against evil corporations. Or they're just kids who want to prove that they can do what others can't -- like hack an "unhackable" system -- and make a name for themselves online. My opinion of them has changed with the PSN hack, and I question if any good can come out of the hacking community.

Do I think Anonymous did it? Yes and no. I don't believe Anon did it because it's not their style. But the thing is, Anon describes itself as a "decentralized" organization, and anyone can be a part of Anon, so if Sony's evidence is true, it could be one of Anon's cells acting on their own, you know, like the Al Qaeda cell that took down the Twin Towers. Anyway, I'm speculating.

It's been a sad few weeks on the PS3. The only consolation is that I'm still working through my backlog of games, so I haven't really felt the PSN blackout much. But to all the parties who made this happen, congratulations, the Internet has taken one giant step backwards. There's now less trust all around, and the Internet feels like a place where security is a myth -- if it hasn't been that way all along. Can I get back to gaming now?


Bogey said...

I know the article is already old but I just would like to ask if it is possible to use Pinas based credit cards in PSN? If yes, can you please post it here. Thanks a lot! I like your blog!

The Third World Nerd said...

Bogey, I used to use my Pinas-based international credit card to buy stuff from the Hong Kong PSN. I did notice there was a strange finance charge every time I bought something though. That upset me, and I've been using prepaid cards ever since.

Bogey said...

Thanks Third World Nerd! :D