PSN is down. Why, and for how long?

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PSNMaintenance

As a PS3 gamer avoiding your family over the long Easter weekend, you may have noticed that Sony’s PlayStation Network is down; ruining any chances of you getting any multiplayer action in; taking the sheen off newly released games like SOCOM, Portal 2 and Mortal Kombat. It’s been a week of inactivity now, and it’s becoming a little worrying.

What’s the cause of the outage, and more importantly – when will PSN be back?

Over the weekend, Sony admitted that the primary reason for the downtime was due to external factors, i.e hacking. “An external intrusion on our system has affected our PlayStation Network and Qriocity services,” said Sony’s Patrick Seybold.“In order to conduct a thorough investigation and to verify the smooth and secure operation of our network services going forward, we turned off PlayStation Network & Qriocity services on the evening of Wednesday, April 20th.” With the recent furore, you might expect that hacking to be the work of an army of sweaty teenage misfits under the guise of Anonymous, the loosely-organised internet-based group who claimed responsibility for the last outage. Should the outage be caused by a hack of this nature, it’s possible that all stored credit card information could be compromised, something Sony says it’s investigating.

According to the internet though, the reason is much deeper – and somewhat more troubling. One Redditor, claiming to be entrenched deep within the PS3 hacking scene claims that a new custom firmware has made the rounds, that essentially turns retail PS3’s in to the debug units developers use for testing their games. It fools Sony’s network in to believing that the machine is part of Sony’s trusted developer network – granting full access to PSN titles without the need for payment. Debug consoles can also run PS3 game code from standard DVD discs or USB hard-drives – opening up the system for wanton, rampant piracy. I’ve confirmed that the debug custom firmware exists – but not if it’s the reason for PSN’s downtime.

It would make sense though; with this sort of intrusion it would be prudent for Sony to rebuild their entire network with increased security to stop all the digital shoplifting. Sony though, has been pretty quiet on the real reasons. What we do know is that the PSN is down, and people are pissed. So when will it be back online? Nobody really knows, but rumour says the European network will be switched back on some time today. I can only hope – I have some Portal 2 to co-op.

As a side note, Microsoft was far classier than expected in their response about the outage :

“Of course it’s regretful that Sony is encountering issues at such a busy time, and Microsoft takes no joy in the problems gamers are having playing their favourite games online. That being said, we are expecting Microsoft’s robust online network to see an increase of traffic from those gamers who own both systems. Being able to play their games via the Xbox Live network could make all the difference for some gamers, and the Xbox Nations event will allow all of them to do just that – whether they have a Gold subscription or not.”

Sources : WSJ, Reddit, Electronic Theatre, VG247

Last Updated: April 26, 2011

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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