Okay I am beginning to cheat with these confessions, this isn’t so much a confession as just a chance for me to jump up onto my soap box and add my 2 cents on the ongoing situation that is the PSN Outage.
Now before I start I think a full disclaimer is in order; I own all of the home consoles i.e. An Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii although admittedly it is the 360 that gets the majority of my game time for the reason that I have the largest collection on that console and prefer achievements to trophies (it’s fickle I know but it’s just my opinion) and my Wii pretty much gathers dust. These are not the words of an Xbox fanboy and I do not intend for this to devolve into a “my console is better than yours” debate nor have I done this simply to capitalise on a bad situation and gain more attention for myself. Disclaimers aside, it’s now time for the main event.
Unless you have been living with your head in the sand you will no doubt be aware of the recent attack on Sony that has caused it to shut down the PSN for over a week now. The attack has raised several questions and depending on your viewpoint the most important of which are; who is to blame, and how much damage has been done? We may never know the truth but that doesn’t mean we can’t speculate.
Question: Who is to blame for the attack?
The internet is a wonderful place for the joining and discussion of opinions, and it seems that on this topic there are at least 3 and half possible answers;
1. George Hotz – The man that started it all, while no one seems to think that George Hotz is responsible for the attack himself it has been claimed that it could not have been done had Hotz not released his hack to the public. In the earlier stages of the outage, it was suggested that one of the reasons that the PSN network was shut down was that some unscrupulous people had used an exploit made possible by Hotz release that essentially gave them infinite credit in their PSN wallet. It is worth noting that this hasn’t been verified by Sony so may not be true. Hotz has also been blamed by acting as a sort of digital Martyr when he stood up against Sony when they sued him and bizarre enough is also being blamed for turning his back on the cause and settling with Sony, guess it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
2. Sony – No one can claim that Sony should have been “hack proof” Nothing is hack proof, think of it as locks on a door they are designed to slow down and discourage someone from breaking in, but with the right tools a lock will always fail eventually. However that is not to say Sony are blameless and can escape criticism. There have been reports that there was a smaller test attack on Sony that was successful but known by Sony yet they were left in the dark when the full scale attack happened. Sony have also been blamed at their handling of the situation as it was only after the best part of a week that it was announced that their user account information may have been compromised. Sony has also been accused of covering up the severity of the attack by initially claiming that it was down after an “external intrusion” while not supplying any other information. It can be argued that they are also partially responsible for not changing the system after George Hotz hacked it, focusing on punishing Hotz rather than fixing the problem although little is known about what if any action Sony were doing behind closed doors to counter Hotz hack. Ultimately people blame Sony for heavy handed tactics against Hotz and removing functionality from the PS3 in the first place which brought the ire of the hacking community to their doorstep, which brings me onto 3 and a half
3. Anonymous, love them or hate them, support or oppose them you cannot deny the impact that Anonymous seems to have on the digital world. When Sony announced that they had an external intrusion most people pointed the finger directly at Anonymous. It didn’t help that Anonymous had previously declared war on Sony over the George Hotz incident but it is worth remembering that Anonymous have launched numerous attacks and protests but most have been a damp squib taking down sites for hours not days. Even Anonymous themselves deny responsibility but do say that it may have been a splinter group. This is what is scary, Anonymous are for lack of a better term a known entity, they have made threats but most don’t do that much damage if any and the reputation of them seems to be that of a bunch of teenagers in bedrooms trying to rebel rather than political activists. However the possibility of a splinter group that has the ability to launch an attack this magnitude is concerning but I think this attack is far too sophisticated to be the work of an individual or even a small group of people. Whoever did this was a specialist and knew what they were doing.
So who is to blame? The answer is everyone. The attack may not have happened had George Hotz not released his hack to the public, it may not have happened if Sony hadn’t annoyed so many people and made themselves a target and it may not have happened had Anonymous not declared war on Sony and inspiring a copy cat.
How much damage has been done?
It’s too soon to tell exactly how much damage has been done as the problem is still ongoing. The biggest damage by far is Sony’s reputation; it will take years for Sony to recover from the negative publicity that this has generated and Sony are still scrambling to return the service back to normal. Personally I believe that the PSN is on life support right now and unless it makes a recovery soon it wouldn’t surprise me to see Sony pull the plug on the service or at least the service as we know it.