Friday, 20 May 2011

The Rant - PSN Debacle

Okay guys, I think its about time to go over what has been on of the most ridiculous mess ups in recent gaming history: The supposed hacking of the Sony Playstation Network.

Let me quickly break this down and voice my opinions on the PSN debacle. In their relentless quest for a completely secure games console, Sony have hounded the Modder community into a corner and mad an enemy of a truly dangerous opponent, and they have subsequently suffered a backlash of epic proportions!

It all began when Sony removed one of the features that was originally bundled with the Playstation 3, then subsequently removed: The Other OS option. This feature allowed someone to be able to install the Linux operating system onto a PS3 in order to use it like a PC (which it kind of is).

As far as I know, there was no major issues with someone having Linux on their PS3, but then Sony suddenly decided to remove the option with a subsequent firmware update. Some were pissed by this betrayal, but it more or less flew under the radar.

Next, a couple of guys managed to create a USB stick that would allow the user to copy their PS3 games onto an external hard drive and run a game without the need for the original disk. This was known as the "Jailbreaker", and the creators were planning to sell it to anyone who would want it before Sony dropped a legal elbow on them to stop the sale of the product, and subsequently have all of their computers seized, effectively robbing them of the ability to reproduce the Jailbreak software. Unfortunately, that didn't do much since the source code was leaked onto the interwebz soon afterwards!

The straw that broke the proverbial camel's back was then the infamous hacker group "Anonymous" discovered the coding that would break the PS3's security wide open, allowing the owner to begin exploiting it's systems to create homebrew software(which might have been the same thing as Jailbreak).

As a retaliatory strike, Sony legally pimp-slapped a few members of Anonymous, including one guy called George Holtz, who was already well known for hacking the iPhone. Then the hackers launched a direct attack on the PSN network, supposedly causing hundreds of thousands of users credit card details to be leaked all over the webz. Turns out Sony's server security measures were woefully inadequate, and as a result made it easy for them to be hacked.

Effectively it was the biggest breach of customer info of all time, and certainly put the wind up me and all my online mates when the PSN network went down for over a month.

I think Anonymous more or less disbanded after that, and Sony appeased their customers with free sign ups to PSN Plus and free game demos (which later turned out to be limited to 60 days).

They did the best they could to smooth things over with their customers, but the simple fact of the matter is that Sony were caught with their pants down. They never should have gone after the hackers knowing that their server security was so weak because they pretty much invited an attack on themselves!

That being said, I lost sympathy for the hackers the moment their retaliation ended up hurting those who would've supported their cause. I have a PSN account, and I was scared shitless when I realised my personal data may have been leaked.

I trusted that Sony was a professional enough company that something like this shouldn't have happened, but I'm more angry at the hackers for what they did more. By going after Sony and the numerous other companies that have since been attacked, they have intensified the hatred against all bedroom programmers who are law-abiding and only seek to challenge their abilities and share their interest with like-minded individuals.

In the end, there were no real winners in this war against piracy. In the end, I can't help but feel that in their relentless pursuit to protect their product, Sony bit the hand that feeds them and got mauled badly. I can fully understand their position in this whole sordid affair, but couldn't Sony have just turned a blind eye to the modders like they did with the PS1 and PS2?




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