Sony Computer Entertainment announced that it will soon begin what it calls a "phased restoration by region" of PlayStation Network and Qriocity services. The first phase of that restoration will begin when its gaming, music and video services are turned back on. The company also announced a series of steps to enhance security across the network and a new customer appreciation program to thank its customers for their patience and loyalty. We suspect that some of these services will be live by week’s end.
The company also reiterated what caused the trouble in the first place and the steps it took to begin fixing the network's security. Following what it called a "criminal cyber-attack on the company’s data-center located in San Diego, California, U.S.A.," SCEA shut the PlayStation Network and Qriocity services down, hired multiple expert information security firms and conducted an audit of the system. Since that time, the company claims that it has implemented a "variety of new security measures" aimed at providing "greater protection of personal information." SNEI and its third-party experts have conducted extensive tests to verify the security strength of the PlayStation Network and Qriocity services.
The company provided some details on its plan to relaunch its services and provide users with special perks for their patience:
- Restoration of Online game-play across the PlayStation 3 (PS3) and PSP (PlayStation Portable) systems -This includes titles requiring online verification and downloaded games
- Access to Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity for PS3/PSP for existing subscribers
- Access to account management and password reset
- Access to download un-expired Movie Rentals on PS3, PSP and MediaGo
- PlayStation Home
- Friends List
- Chat Functionality
The company also detailed the security measures that have been added to its various services to make it tougher for future security breach attempts:
- Working closely with several outside security firms, the company has implemented significant security measures to further detect unauthorized activity and provide consumers with greater protection of their personal information. The company is also creating the position of Chief Information Security Officer, directly reporting to Shinji Hasejima, Chief Information Officer of Sony Corporation, to add a new position of expertise in and accountability for customer data protection and supplement existing information security personnel. The new security measures implemented include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Added automated software monitoring and configuration management to help defend against new attacks
- Enhanced levels of data protection and encryption
- Enhanced ability to detect software intrusions within the network, unauthorized access and unusual activity patterns
- Implementation of additional firewalls
- The company also expedited an already planned move of the system to a new data center in a different location that has been under construction and development for several months. In addition, PS3 will have a forced system software update that will require all registered PlayStation Network users to change their account passwords before being able to sign into the service. As an added layer of security, that password can only be changed on the same PS3 in which that account was activated, or through validated email confirmation, a critical step to help further protect customer data.
The company also added that it is conducting a "thorough and on-going investigation and working with law enforcement" to track down and prosecute those responsible for the security breach that saw over 70 million customers' private information exposed to outside parties:
"This criminal act against our network had a significant impact not only on our consumers, but our entire industry. These illegal attacks obviously highlight the widespread problem with cyber-security. We take the security of our consumers’ information very seriously and are committed to helping our consumers protect their personal data. In addition, the organization has worked around the clock to bring these services back online, and are doing so only after we had verified increased levels of security across our networks," said Kazuo Hirai, Executive Deputy President, Sony Corporation. "Our global audience of PlayStation Network and Qriocity consumers was disrupted. We have learned lessons along the way about the valued relationship with our consumers, and to that end, we will be launching a customer appreciation program for registered consumers as a way of expressing our gratitude for their loyalty during this network downtime, as we work even harder to restore and regain their trust in us and our services."
The hardest thing for Sony to sell is its planned "Welcome Back" Appreciation Program. While giving away free stuff to customers might smooth the edges for some gamers, others are going to be less than satisfy what is tantamount to a bribe for two weeks worth of downtime and the possibility that their private information and credit card info might have been stolen..
While Sony claims that there is "no evidence at this time: that credit card data has been stolen, it also say that it is committed to helping customers protect their personal data and will provide a "complimentary offering" to assist users in "enrolling in identity theft protection services and/or similar programs." This offering will be on "local level" with further details to be made available shortly in each region.
The PlayStation Network and Qriocity "Welcome Back" program will be offered worldwide, but will be different by region. Each territory will be offering selected PlayStation entertainment content for free download. Specific details of this content will be announced in each region soon. All existing PlayStation Network customers will get a 30 days free membership to the PlayStation Plus premium service, while current members of PlayStation Plus will receive 30 days free service. Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity subscribers (in countries where the service is available) will receive 30 days free service.
Additional "Welcome Back" offerings will be rolled out over the coming weeks as the company returns the PlayStation Network and Qriocity services to normal. Each region will also get free downloads to be announced at a later date as well.