Sony's Kazuo Hirai took the podium along with other Sony executives at a press conference in Japan on Sunday to formally apologize for the company's problems with its PlayStation Network and Qriocity streaming service, both of which have been down for almost two weeks due to a security failure.
During the press conference (and reiterated in a blog post on Sony's Web site, Sony explained how they plan to make amends and shore up their security as the PlayStation Network and Qriocity service comes back online beginning this week.
Sony has received harsh criticism for failing to quickly publicly acknowledge a security intrusion had taken place. The service was down for six days before Sony admitted that their network security had been compromised and that thieves had swiped personal account information including names, addresses, passwords and possibly even credit card numbers. The PlayStation Network is used by an estimated 77 million subscribers worldwide.
As many as 10 million credit cards may have been exposed, though their information was encrypted, unlike the PSN account personal information. Sony executives at the press conference underscored that the company has not confirmed any cases of credit card fraud associated with the break in, and will let the public know when they have more information.
Sony plans to hire a Chief Information Security Officer who will report to Shinji Hasejima, the company's Chief Information Officer. That executive will help oversee new efforts at Sony to bolster security including the addition of software to help monitor and defend against attacks; improved data protection and encryption; the addition of new firewalls; and the ability to detect software intrusions on Sony's network.
In light of the intrusion, Sony said it's expediting the move of the system that houses the PlayStation Network to a new data center in a different location than its current place in San Diego, Calif.
When the system finally comes back online, PlayStation 3 owners will have to download new firmware in order to regain access, and will need to change their passwords either using e-mail or the same PlayStation 3 they used to activate their PSN account.
Sony has also initiated a "Welcome Back appreciation program" to try to win back gamers who have been disenfranchised from Sony through this mess. They plan to offer "selected PlayStation entertainment content for free download." Sony said the freebies will vary by region, and will be announced soon.
PlayStation Plus, Sony's premium-level subscription plan for PSN users, will be available to all with a 30-day free membership. Current PSN subscribers get a 30-day extension to their subscription. Qriocity subscribers see similar benefits.
All told, it's a good start for Kaz Hirai and others from Sony to step up to the plate, take the blame and start to make amends. Lots of PlayStation Network users feel burned by this debacle, however, and at a time when Sony is trying to expand its reach to gamers with products like the NGP (Sony's next-generation handheld gaming system) and Android-based tablets, PSN infiltration by data thieves couldn't have come at a worse time for the company.
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