The Sony Saga Snowballs. More delays, more confusion and now Sony itself leaves personal data online.

May 11, 2011

“Hacking. It’s like a Berlinda Carlisle song. You know you shouldn’t like it but for some reason you do.

So we have proved that hacking is cool. Along with driving Ferrari’s and sleeping with super models it is one of the few ambitions of almost all teenagers; the ability to hack into, what would turn out to be, completely pointless government and non-governmental websites. Yes you could hack into NASA. And do what? Ferris Bueller would hack into the school records and change his grades to A*. Surely the teachers would notice? The bank? Yes, you could hack into the bank and award a bank error in your favour. K’ching. $5 million please. You could hack an online poker room and see the cards. K’ching. You could access the criminal records and give people you don’t like imaginary criminal records and have them sent to prison.

World hacking champion hacks 10 at a time.

In reality, all of these things would quickly lead to frozen assets and prison-time. In the films green text scrolls down the screen, loading bars do crazy things, loud maniacal music intensifies the stress and something important is on the line. Usually the end of the world. In reality it is probably nothing like this. In reality, people are after telephone numbers and bank details. yawn.

Which is what happened with Sony recently. The story has received media overkill but essentially what happened is that on the 19th April 2011 unusual and unauthorized activity was noticed on Sony’s mega servers for PlayStation Online – a gargantuan online virtual playground where gamers go to kill and mame each other over vast, online battle fields, tennis courts, football pitches, alien plains, oceans and sky-scapes. Hacking was a-foot. Oh la la. The thing about the PlayStation Online Network is that you can’t just play, you have to register. (Ah ha. Register. One of the most time-consuming, repulsive and annoying words in the English lexicon.) As you can imagine, a lot of people registered. They gave their name, address, daytime telephone number, email address, and… drum roll please…..credit card details. You know what is coming? Yep. The hackers stole it all. All that juicy, precious, expensive information. Gone. Like Kaiser Soze.

100 million online users can't be wrong. But they can be seriously pissed off.

Rumours and blame and accusation abound. Sony is even considering offering Bobba Fett style bounties for information on who is to blame. But who is to blame? Fuck knows. People say the activist hacker group Anonymous. They are annonymous, nobody knows who they are but they deny it. So who could it be? Probably a 7-year old Ukranian computer genius. Or maybe Sony? Probably not this time, but they have done it before. Via ineptitude. Cold, hard, calculating ineptitude.

In 2001 Sony held a sweepstakes competition. In computer terms 2001 is like Le Mans in 1955 in car racing terms. Slow, dangerous and liable to crash at any moment. Suffice to say, not many people entered the competition. Luckily for them as 2500 people had their data spewed on to the Internet as the information was left on public servers for all and sundry to see.

“In the latest Sony hack, hackers did NOT publish customer confidential information on a website. Instead, Sony did,” as F-Secure’s Mikko Hypponen explained at the time.

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