Sony has been in the news for all the wrong reasons over the last month. The news of the PlayStation Network getting hacked, and the ferocity of the attack, took the world by surprise.  When it first happened, the downtime looked like a temporary system failure, but it’s only weeks later that the magnitude of the problem became gravely apparent. Some 2.2 million credit cards were stolen, that also included user names, passwords and other identity information.

The impact of the hack has been so severe, that Sony has been struggling to get the PSN back up for almost two months. Apart from the loss of customers and the inconvenience caused, Sony too, has a lost a fair amount of money ($171 million)

Some PSN users facing downtime

Long time gone, still lacking stability

For more than a month, PSN users have been moaning about Sony’s ineffectiveness in dealing with this hack attack. Sony has also faced a lot of criticism for the time taken to fix this problem. A company the size of Sony should have been able to rectify the problem sooner than that. But is this criticism unfair?

An overreaction
Many others services that have faced similar catastrophic failures have been quiet or not been as vocal about it as Sony was. In Sony’s case, they are dealing with a rather vocal demographic (read gamers). Gamers are generally an excitable bunch, and they usually blow things out of proportion.

We’ve all seen security problems plague software in the past and lately, web services seems to be targeted by hackers and all sorts of worms and viruses. The big issue with Sony’s Playstation network was that it affected their entire user base. While most other services don’t really interact with their products, in the case of Sony, customers interact with their Playstation devices actively and depend on the PSN service for updates, purchases and a whole bunch of other things.

While most services, no matter how badly hit, were able to recover and resume services just days after the attack. A lot of the frustation from gamers came from the fact that service still wasn’t active, and it continues to be partially disabled, even today. As if user identity and data loss wasn’t bad enough, what appears to be a lack of urgency fueled the anger and frustration.

Could it be avoided?
This is not to say that Sony’s PSN hacking incident was not Sony’s fault and that it can be ignored. Sure, Sony could have implemented more severe and comprehensive security systems in place, but like any other secure service or product out here, it’s only secure till it gets hacked. Hackers can and will find loopholes in pretty much any system and exploit it, and they have in the past. It’s after a lot of work, that hacking into a system becomes more difficult as these loopholes are fixed. This could have happened with anyone. Google up “Bank hacked” and you’ll find a whole bunch of results on banks losing records and vital data.

Going easy on the credit card details
The solution isn’t to stop using credit cards online. There are a few things that you can do to ensure that you don’t lose your card and your money with it. I personally, don’t save my credit card information on any service no matter how secure they may claim to be. Sure, it may be convenient to shop without having to enter your card number, but pulling out a card and typing out a 16 digit number isn’t a lot of work. I’m also particularly cautious about netbanking and using the credit card on a public computer. It’s best done at home on a secured PC and network.

Unjust treatment for Sony
There are plenty of services online and there have been countless incidents where credit card data and personal data has been stolen from them. Many would say that Microsoft’s Windows operating system has been a target for many hackers and viruses. Critical data has been lost on multiple instances and the total worth of data and resources lost could easily surpass the losses incurred by Sony. A service of the size of Facebook has lost personal data to hackers and that data has been made public on sites and P2P services for anyone to see.

It’s been more than a month since the incident. PSN is slowly returning to normalcy but Sony continues to be targeted. Come to think about it, the only real effect of this incident was that gamers were unable to play games online for a month. Sony has become an unfortunate target because of their sheer size, popularity and their infallible perception amongst gamers.

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