PlayStation Network Down Indefinitely--Again

Sony has once again missed its own timeframe to get the Playstation Network back online, as the company tries to secure its network after a devastating security breach.

Sony said last Sunday that it expected to bring PSN back up by the end of the week, but those plans were ruined by a separate attack on Sony Online Entertainment, the company's massive multiplayer gaming service.

"We were unaware of the extent of the attack on Sony Online Entertainment servers, and we are taking this opportunity to conduct further testing of the incredibly complex system," Sony spokesman Patrick Seybold wrote on the official Playstation Blog. He offered no estimate of when service will be restored.

The Playstation Network went down on April 19, and couple days later Sony said it would restore service in "a full day or two." But the problems turned out to be worse than expected. Hackers had broken into PSN and made off with names, passwords, e-mails, addresses and birthdays. There's no evidence that credit card numbers were stolen, but Sony hasn't ruled out the possibility. Over the last couple of weeks, Sony's been rebuilding the Playstation Network, and is now testing security internally.

The last week brought some high drama, as a separate attack on Sony Online Entertainment resulted in the theft of personal information for 24.6 million users and 20,000 credit card or bank account numbers. Sony told Congress that it found a file named "Anonymous" in its Sony Online Entertainment servers, with the text "We Are Legion" inside. This refers to the hacking group Anonymous, which says it wasn't involved in either attack. Anonymous had previously attacked Sony's website, and Sony said this attack was either an intentional or inadvertent diversion.

Also this week, Sony Chairman and CEO Howard Stringer wrote a lengthy explanation and apology, reflecting Sony's overall change in tone from cold and distant to apologetic.

This whole thing has been a huge mess from the beginning, but I think most users would be happy if they could just enjoy Playstation games online again. Still, Sony can't risk another attack, which according to CNet was being planned for this weekend. A longer outage is better than a second outage, so security needs to be airtight before PSN can come back online.

For more information on the outage, check out PC World's PlayStation Network Hack Timeline. See also "PlayStation Network Security Breach: A Survival Guide."

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