Five days and counting. That’s how long the PlayStation Network has been down. Today Sony confirmed that an external security breech was the cause of the problem. Sony has now said that "an external intrusion on our system has affected our PlayStation Network and Qriocity services" which warranted shutting down the entire network to investigate.
Sony posted an update on its blog, stating that additional security was being built into the network, and thanking gamers for their patience.
"Our efforts to resolve this matter involve re-building our system to further strengthen our network infrastructure. Though this task is time-consuming, we decided it was worth the time necessary to provide the system with additional security," the blog stated. "We thank you for your patience to date and ask for a little more while we move towards completion of this project. We will continue to give you updates as they become available."
Questions about the safety of millions of credit card numbers held by Sony from gamers who bought items or games online remain unanswered. One theory is that only a breech of the security of the credit card system would prompt such a massive response by the company during what is traditionally a huge holiday gaming weekend.
The outage is particularly bad given that Portal 2 was just released for the console, marking one of the first times that Valve’s Steam online service has been available as part of the Sony Network. PS3 gamers who bought Portal 2 over the weekend have been unable to access many of the game’s features.
Many people are pointing fingers at the Anonymous hacker group, which launched a series of denial of service attacks against the PlayStation Network a few days before the outage. Anonymous was upset about a lawsuit Sony had filed against George Hotz, a coder who was allegedly instructing people how to hack the PS3 console. However, Anonymous has distanced itself from the recent outage, denying all responsibility. Previously, spokespersons for the group had said that the DOS attacks were conducted by a splinter cell within their group and were not sanctioned by the main body. Internet posts on hacker-related newsgroups suggested that the DOS attacks did more to hurt the group’s reputation with its fanbase than anything else.
Sony has not given any indication as to when the network will be brought back online, or whether money stored in player’s online wallets will still be waiting for them when it does. As of 9AM Eastern Standard Time, the PlayStation Network still displayed the "Network is down for maintenance" error when anyone tried to log back in.