After Security Breach, PlayStation Users Can't Connect

For the past week, one of the most popular parts of Sony's PlayStation hasn't been working. Millions of gamers used to playing against each other online have not been able to connect. Sony says that its network has been hacked and personal information — possibly including credit card information — has been compromised.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

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Sony is in damage-control mode after revealing a major security breach. The company has announced that about 77 million Sony PlayStation accounts were hacked. That means personal information was compromised, possibly including credit card information.

In a moment, we'll ask why these security breaches keep happening to all sorts of companies. First, NPR's Sami Yenigun reports on the case of the Sony PlayStation.

SAMI YENIGUN: It all started last Wednesday when PlayStation owners around the world saw their gaming network go dark.

MARTYN WILLIAMS: The first thing that users saw was an inability to sign in.

YENIGUN: Martyn Williams is a columnist for PCWorld. He's been keeping a timeline of the events at Sony.

WILLIAMS: The outage went on through the weekend.

YENIGUN: Sony's online services where fully down, so gamers couldn't play multiplayer games with their friends online.

WILLIAMS: And at the beginning of this week, we started to get an idea that the outage might be a bit more serious because it was going on for quite a long time.

YENIGUN: As the week progressed, it became clear that Sony had been attacked.

WILLIAMS: Sony said that they were having to rebuild the entire network, and they started talking about an intrusion into their services.

YENIGUN: A hacker had breached their systems.

WILLIAMS: And then yesterday, they came out, and they said that personal information of users has been stolen, and there's a possibility, although they haven't confirmed it, that credit card information was also stolen.

YENIGUN: Sony confirmed that names and addresses for registered PlayStation Network users had been compromised, along with their birth dates, email addresses and other personal information.

Williams says that Sony's response has been slow, at best. It took Sony six days to notify the public of a security breach. They've been releasing public statements through the PlayStation Blog. PlayStation fans have been skewering Sony on blogs of their own.

WILLIAMS: If they lost their entire database, they're talking something like 77 million users. So this would make some of the hacks we've seen until now look like, well, very small in comparison.

YENIGUN: Ben Howell(ph) and Danny Ostremensky(ph) are two of those 77 million users, and they're roommates. One of their favorite games is "Call of Duty," a first-person shooter set in a war zone, but Howell says they haven't played this week because of the outage.

BEN HOWELL: If we play at home, you can basically only play the storyline game mode.

YENIGUN: Which means that you can only play with a couple of friends around a TV.

HOWELL: But if you play online, you're playing, in like, an interactive environment where it's all live players, so it's really exciting because you can just play like really big games with like 10 players on each team, and it's like every game is different. I like killing real people online.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

YENIGUN: So they've resorted to playing "FIFA Soccer," a game that's pretty similar on- or offline.

Ostremensky is not happy with the network being shut down. He wants to play "Call of Duty."

DANNY OSTREMENSKY: I'm P.O.'d because I haven't been able to play for about five days.

YENIGUN: And he's worried about his credit card information.

OSTREMENSKY: All my account information is on there, so that's actually kind of unnerving.

YENIGUN: Unnerving indeed. When Sony comes back online, the two will have to decide if compromising their personal information is worth the fun of, as they say, killing people online.

Sami Yenigun, NPR News.

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