Sony Says PlayStation Network Outage Self-Imposed Following Intrusion

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Technology giant Sony said on Monday that a five-day outage affecting its PlayStation Network, the online service connected to the company’s PlayStation 3 video game console was the company’s own doing – a dramatic move in an attempt to protect user data, following the discovery of an intrusion.

According to a report on Time’s Techland blog (and many others) the PlayStation Network, along with Sony’s Qriocity entertainment service, has been offline since Wednesday last week.

Sony issued a statement over the weekend saying that the outage was the result of “an external intrusion,” explaining that it turned off the services “to conduct a thorough investigation and to verify the smooth and secure network operation of our network services going forward.”

In a later statement, the company assured customers that it was working “round the clock” to bring the services back online, and that its efforts involved rebuilding the systems to strengthen them.

“Though this task is time-consuming,” says the notice, “we decided it was worth the time necessary to provide the system with additional security.”

Beyond the reference to an “external intrusion,” Sony doesn’t provide much insight into the circumstances of the attack. Game-related blogs are filled with speculation and questions about the incident, and what kinds of user information might have been accessed. PlayStation network users do use their credit cards through the service to buy downloadable games, movies and other content.

Activist hacker collective Anonymous – widely known for disrupting a variety of online services that cut off services to whistle-blower site WikiLeaks in reaction to its release of US diplomatic cables last year, as well as for a long list of other acts – issued a statement over the weekend titled “For Once We Didn’t Do It,” denying it had any responsibility. There had been some speculation by users that the group may have been responsible for the attack.

According to Techland, spokespeople for Sony have said the company has not yet been able to determine whether any user information, including credit card numbers, was compromised.

The outage follows last week’s very high-profile outage of parts of Amazon’s EC2 cloud computing service.

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