Reality Check: PSN Welcome Back Program - Thanks, But No Thanks

Are a few games really worth a potential lifetime of trouble?

Sony is in a no-win situation. While the company has implemented a customer appreciation program to entice users back to the PlayStation Network after nearly a month of downtime, it doesn't conceal the fact that PSN experienced more than an elongated hiccup in service. This was a full-blown attack orchestrated not only to bring service to a halt, but also to steal personal information and catch Sony with its electronic pants down. And it was entirely successful--a global electronics giant was made to look the fool, and your personal information was as good as gone, not to mention the 10 million or so credit card numbers that also "might have been" compromised in the fallout.

Is it safe?

Still, Sony appreciates you. It appreciates you so much that it's willing to give you two of five PlayStation 3 or PSN games and two of four PSP games. There's some other stuff in the "we're sorry" package too, including subscription time to PlayStation Plus, movie rentals, and goodies for Home--overall, not a bad deal by any stretch, though some might argue that the games being offered aren't the best choices, but you can't beat free, right?

The only problem is that none of this is really free. Some of you might walk away from this whole debacle unscathed, but carrying some concern that your information is floating around, waiting to be sold to the next bidder. Some of you might end up having to deal with fraudulent credit card charges, which admittedly are easily dealt with provided you stay on top of your bills and contact the associated credit card issuer for a replacement card in quick fashion. But some of you may bear the unfortunate consequences and the immense burden of full-on identity theft if this info is used to retrieve more sensitive details.

This is akin to shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater when there is no imminent danger for some of you, but it's an enormously serious problem that shouldn't be taken lightly or overlooked. Identity theft is a onetime event that can cause a lifetime of issues, including ruined credit and tax fraud to name but a few of the major problems associated with the crime. Sadly, the only way to combat it is to, as Sony says, remain vigilant and take proper precautions to protect yourself. This means contacting local law enforcement to file police reports. This also means contacting the credit bureaus, banks, and potentially even the DMV, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Social Security Administration if the problem persists or reaches the worst-case scenario.

Unfortunately, this entire process takes a huge psychological toll, particularly when investigating what it takes to get information changed and how difficult it is to change it even when the appropriate steps are taken. In the interim, credit monitoring (which Sony is also offering for free) might give peace of mind, but it won't fix or solve the problem because the short of it is this: It never ends. Once the information is out there, it's available for an indeterminate amount of time--one year, two years, or 10 years. It doesn't matter. There won't be a single day when a victim won't wonder if some nefarious individuals aren't scheming something with personal information that isn't their own--hunkered under a shaft of light, sitting at a dingy poker table in a shady room.

Would you feel comfortable buying games from the PSN store when it comes back?

It might seem silly, but to the victims of identity theft, it's a very real scenario that they know all too well. Sadly, a couple of new games won't fix the problem, so much of this Welcome Back program amounts to little more than a fireworks show to distract everyone from the real issue. That being said, there really isn't anything else Sony can do for recompense outside of showing up on the doorstep with a sack of cash and a new identity in tow, but that's impractical and unrealistic. What Sony can do is this: Convince all PSN users affected by this calamity that the security measures put in place are top notch, and reassure them that if this happens again, there won't be a delay in relaying pertinent information. That's it. Forget the free games and forget the movie rentals--putting a price on identity theft is just stupid. Just prove to all PlayStation 3 owners that you, Sony, are guarding and treating our information like your most precious industry secrets.

And for the record, the combination of excuses and new security issues isn't a good place to start.

Reality Check is GameSpot's recurring editorial column. Each week, members of the GameSpot editorial team sound off on current gaming events as well as various topics that surround the gaming industry.

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Discussion

678 comments
Ragnawind
Ragnawind

I have to agree with red666devil here. It wasn't really Sony's fault. They were monitoring the servers and shut it down when they found it. They didn't release the info so fast due to LEGAL reasons. You can just give out all the info to the public before a thorough investigation is done. That is against security policies everywhere, when it comes to business. Anyway, there has also been no reports of credit card info and such being stolen and used from this. It seems very much like this article and many of the comment givers are already Microsoft fanboys and are biased against Sony originally. It is not like Microsoft or Nintendo can't be hacked either. Any of the major companies can. That is a FACT that everyone must understand. Even the best security on the planet can't stop a hacker if they really wanted to get info or anything from any server. Sony did the best they probably could.

GraphicKingInc
GraphicKingInc

Xbox Live vs. PSN... You get what you pay for... Xbox fanboys everywhere are rejoicing...

Alchemist252
Alchemist252

This article is really stupid, really... But I still have to rofl at the ignoramuses who put up the argument "well would you blame the owner of the house if it got robbed" ROFL! It is not an individual who owns a house it is a multimillion dollar corporation who get payed to provide a secure service. It is their job to make sure they are keeping with the latest security measures so they can provide said service. And do they not have anyone checking on a regular basis to make sure nothing suspicious is going on in their own servers? Oh yes it is all the hackers fault and $ony is just an completely innocent victim...

Iranian_Guy
Iranian_Guy

this is true they should have been more careful u never heard the story of the guy who had his info stolen by a "friend"? andh ad to go through so much **** for more than a decade? it's sony's fault and nobody else's but for middle easterns who can't use credit cards on ps3 it's really not much difference but people really take this serious and do sth about the banking info

red666devil
red666devil

MicroSpot..... rather than GameSpot. Love sony, and will love the games, no matter who ever hacks it... Support the Developers, who put soo much work into creating soo huge. Just because a bunch of geeks, calling themselves hackers hacked it, doesnt means we will stop supporting the Developers. Move On Sony... we with you....

MOBS
MOBS

This is BS . 'A lifetime of trouble?' . I don't think so. Just cancel and reorder a new credit card. You should have nothing else to worry about for a 'Lifetime' unless whoever stole all that personal info is somebody you trash-talked over PSN and now they are going to come to your house and beat your head in with a baseball bat.

wwlettsome
wwlettsome

Have to laugh at all the Sony apologists who keep making excuses for the failure by Sony to keep our data safe. Yes the hackers did it, but it's Sony's responsibility to keep our information secure. Keep up the great articles.

gohtingqi1997
gohtingqi1997

i own a xbox and i have no ps3 but i think this package is actually pretty good, but problem is, psn owners DO have the right to know how psn , such a mega huge industry got hacked and why nothing was known till like the last minute , which took them about a month or so [ i guessed the time i took] to get it back on and why nothing was done to prevent dis before it happened, since it just said it has opened an security department after this incident. yours sincerely, avid gamer

random3905
random3905

hey, sony fanboys STOP CRYING! im not really trying to fight the fanboy wars but just cuz you read 1 crap article isn't a reason to flame this much! i mean the comments are like a battleground for trolls. P.S. i have 360 AND ps3 and i use my ps3 maybe twice a month to play lbp or infamous.

hella_epic
hella_epic

i have no problem in using the PS store again.actually i'm glad it's comin back up :D

hella_epic
hella_epic

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Jarhead876
Jarhead876

THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY A XBOX360 FANBOY

the_requiem
the_requiem

@TheLord_79: Nope it is robber's fault. Yet, do you think people will not laugh at you or blame you if they were to know that you used locks made of cardboard on all your doors? Tell me, would you trust your money with a bank that doesn't have decent enough security, that any kid with a toy gun could rob? If yes, may I interested you with private banking services? I'll give you 40% annual interest on money you deposit with me, though there won't be good enough security. Anyone with a crowbar will be able to rob me. Deal?

xxx005
xxx005

Dear Gamespot, Did microsoft pay you to write this ?!?!

Sagacious_Tien
Sagacious_Tien

@TheLord_79 Not if you're paying for security. Like it or not, people paid Sony for a service. Sony didn't protect that service, and for a month, people couldn't access said service. On top of that, those same people who entrusted that service had their personal information stolen. Sony stalled on admitting what had happened (potentially affecting millions), then implemented a solution which didn't work, and finally decided - ok, we'll give all those who are loyal customers several old games that won't really cost us much in the long run. All the games have made profit, so Sony isn't really losing here. Of course, they'll lose money from some lost sales, but every step they've taken since their attack has been to protect their bottom line and not the private information of it's customers. Considering that Sony is a massive conglomerate of consumer goods, television, video games, music and film this is unacceptable. Considering how they've handled this situation is a complete slap in the face to their loyal customers. Sony should have prepared better, and the piddling compensation they're offering is nothing to the Playstation owner who could possibly face a lifetime of trouble.

TheLord_79
TheLord_79

If someone robbed my house, is it my fault?....so we dont have to blame the robbers right? Riduculous article.

JokerFoxx
JokerFoxx

Why are we blaming sony? ... did theyyyyyyyy hack themselves or something ?

bubbalooga
bubbalooga

@shani_boy101 Dude, how do you think Gamespot get their funding? I never saw this much flame when 360 users first experienced RRoD, it's just their way of getting the fence sitters to decide what console to buy next. It's not a case of poor security, rather the hackers surpassing an obstacle. Disagree with me? Then why else would these E-Journalists try to put the blame, as you said shani_boy101, on Sony themselves.

shani_boy101
shani_boy101

Instead of just attacking Sony for this why not the hackers themselves? You don't put full blame a bank for getting robbed or condemn a city for getting attacked by terrorists, you blame the perpetrators.

macca366
macca366

This is an editorial, not a journalistic article, so there's an allowance to be bias here, for anyone complaining. That being said, I would rather have read an article condemning malicious hackers.

tarutaru1
tarutaru1

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

kierwinyoung
kierwinyoung

("Would you feel comfortable buying games from the PSN store when it comes back?") I'll feel fine if i download DLC when PSN comes back it's not their fault that they've been hack, I mean there's nothing wrong about restoring it, I'll be pissed of when they never got restored.

obenns
obenns

Quite right. With our details being saved everywhere on the net, it's most likely going to happen to you again with another company. Let's hope that Playstation aren't setting a trend for other companies by giving freebies as compensation.

matsuonanaho
matsuonanaho

this article is sooooooo written by a xbox fan boy or Wii fan boy.. but im guessing we all knw which..

Coolyfett
Coolyfett

I know what free games I will be downloading...Cool gift from Sony!!!

suhinho
suhinho

Sony should give us different options... as a person who hardly uses psn this package just sux...

D1rty_Dawg
D1rty_Dawg

ID theft is a reality we all have to deal with these days, just think about how many online services you have used in the past where you have trusted a faceless company to process and store your personal and financial information securely and responsibly. From my point of view, it is Sony's attitude towards this security breach that amazes me. The fact that they let it happen in the first place is bad enough but to then start making excuses and blaming everyone other than their own apathy to securing their systems is just ridiculous. Howard Stringer just about sums up their opinion of their customers with his comments the other day, stating that a week was quick enough to inform people that their personal information had been compromised. They should have announced it as soon as they found out and not waited. They stated that they were not sure if credit card details were also stolen but surely they should have just assumed they had been and let people know as they were sure that personal information was removed. At least that way we, as their customers have the option to then act on the information immediately and cancel cards etc. I for one hope that if nothing else comes of this, other companies that I entrust with my personal information have taken note of this mess and carried out their own internal tests and checks to make sure that their systems are as secure as possible and actively monitored.

Philly04
Philly04

@ uncagedpaul_86 I agree. People's phone's get hacked, even ipod touches, anything that is part of the net and contains personal information or data. Overall this identity theft is a problem for individuals but the concern or blame shouldn't go directly towards the individual holders and Sony alone, it's between Sony and the money lender most of all to track such transactions.

This article is more of a gossip rather than a substantial source to inform more of a fact that people's stolen information is being sold off. What is clear is that this is most likely a hacktivism which succeeded to slap Sony in the face and made us more aware of the vulnerability of our personal information on the net.

NeoIostars
NeoIostars

Nothing is safe in the internet. Heck, look at Facebook. It's voyeur heaven. I've lost count on how many times my credit card got compromised (way back before the PS3 and all this hijacking brouhaha). So saying PSN is the only unsafe service out there is rather silly (and dare I say, ignorant) IMO.

kljvoph
kljvoph

[Philly1UPer wrote: So I guess the free Identidy Theft Protection Sony will be giving you for a free to protect you isn't good ether right? I mean, thats a 2,000 dollar investment that Sony is actually fronting the bill for, for over 77 Million Users.] So you are saying that Sony is investing $ 2000 * 77 mil = 154 billion $ which is just about what SONY's total value on the 2011 market amounts to according to Forbes. Something isn't adding up here.

AceBalls
AceBalls

This here after all that's happened? 'If you use PlayStation®Network log-in details to access this site, basic information about your PSN account will be shared with the website operator. PSN is not responsible for operation of this website. See Privacy Policy for more information'.

Skyblue69
Skyblue69

Looks like $ony should have employed Micro$oft so assist them in safeguarding our info

Outlaw_Hawk
Outlaw_Hawk

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

SicklySunStorm
SicklySunStorm

[continued] But lets also consider the other side of the coin - if Sony really did have excellent security at a level which was on par with everyone else out there, then quite simply the blame lies purely at the hands of the attackers. The thing is, we don't know which is true. And sadly, Sony's handling of the whole situation being all standoff-ish and palming away the questions for weeks on end really doesn't help cast a good light. I LOVE Sony. I want to believe that it was all the hackers and that they'll make a full recovery, but I can't deny my rational brain that is screaming for answers before I can fully trust them with my info again. I hope that a public enquiry takes place to actually reveal the extent of the incident, perhaps that's the only way we'll know?

SicklySunStorm
SicklySunStorm

I'm still troubled by how little we really know about what actually happened here... It goes without saying that no-one can lay the blame entirely at Sony's feet - they were attacked. As many people have said before on here - would you blame a person if they were mugged, or the person who's house was burgled? Of course not.... However - NO-ONE at this moment in time, other than Sony themselves and the attacker(s), knows the true extent of of the incident. What we should all question is this; was Sony's security really and truly adequate to at least try to stop this type of attack, or was it exploited extremely easily compared to the masses of other companies with networks out there? If it WAS exploited very easily, then think about that - how does that make you feel? It could only have been exploited easily for one or both of two reasons; either they cut corners financially with it, or they had a team of numbnuts build and sign it off without even caring. Either implication would be simply startling and unnacceptable in this day and age with internet fraud already rife before this incident. [to continue...]

Philly1UPer
Philly1UPer

@ SgtBeetle75 Even though I sent this to you in a message, Gamespot FINALLY loaded this article up. But you say a few free games and some Home stuff on PS3 isn't enough. So I guess the free Identidy Theft Protection Sony will be giving you for a free to protect you isn't good ether right? I mean, thats a 2,000 dollar investment that Sony is actually fronting the bill for, for over 77 Million Users. And that isn't good enough for you? Why do people like you keep forgetting to mention that?

dalua360
dalua360

Don't people see? They put their credit cards inside the web and they really believe it's safe?? If PAYPAL want, they could sell ( illegaly) all the credit card numbers and security codes for example. What I mean is, internet is dangerous, and we put our credit card numbers there based only on trust, which wasn't broken by Sony, they didn't rob us, they were attacked, like every person or company could be in different many ways. So, we all have to question ourselves if we are going to be affraid to use the PSN again, we have to be affraid to use anything on the internet, or else, We will be contradictory only thinking that PSN is dangerous.

Fz1994
Fz1994

I was a thinking and I doubt identity theft will really occur because thats 77 million identities(approx) . The hackers will just select random identities whenever they feel like it? or get 77 million people to change their identities?

davidsworld3
davidsworld3

Yeah I'm glad I own a 360, I own a ps3 as well but I havne't been too happy with it, plus with the service down for so long I kinda stopped caring. I just get sp games for the ps3 now anymore anyways I dont care for the free online service I wouldn't own it at all if I had to pay for it. 360 I just feel has a better array of games of multiple taste, for everyone. I am however tired of gamespot's crappy articles.

printice21
printice21

even if Sony did treat it like an industry secret tha would be worse remember the psp go....the sony's worst kept secret, the playstation phone...and the list goes on

snowblood1970
snowblood1970

The people who hacked the PlaystationNetwork are the Bad guys! RIGHT? Not PSN!! WTF..Nobody is ever happy!! Thats whats wrong with this world. You ROCK SONY....Thank You!!

ggregd
ggregd

@the_requiem Agreed. Social engineering will get you everywhere. That's why active monitoring is the third leg of the stool. If everyone goes home at 5:00 then whoever gets in has all night to browse the databases. It's not hard to spot 10 million sets of personal data getting queried.

caketoo
caketoo

I cant buy into the ID theft angle as anything more then media sensationlisim. This hack exposes my ID how? Our names and address are already on the internet. CC fraud is CC fraud not ID theft. No SS number no ID theft. In this day and age anyone whos gonna respond to an email or letter by supplying more personal info is a moron. Its like the 2nd rule of spotting a scam email,unless your over 60 or living in 1997 you have no excuse. Now if youll excuse me Ive apparently won the European Lottery.

jirca87
jirca87

I honestly don't think that identity theft is very likely to happen from this hack. I think this was more of an attack on Sony than an attack on the customers, and that whomever did it is smart enough to know that if they actually used the stolen information, the chances of them being caught would go up astronomically. Considering how highly publicized this shutdown was that Congress, the FBI, and other national goverments all took note of it, any reasonable PSN user would be watching their credit card statements and checking their credit history to ensure credit card theft did not occur to them and the hackers would know that.

uncagedpaul_86
uncagedpaul_86

They should call themselves "X-spot" lol. The fact is computer's get hacked ALL the time. Anything that connects to the internet is reachable to hackers. My folks had their card details stolen and they didn't have a PSN account on there, but that didn't stop that person from spending £800 on quad bike parts. My point is this; nothing is safe online. At least Sony are fixing the problem and offering free content (which by the way we ARE NOT owed). They only people who should be compensated are those who have a playstation plus account, everyone else should be grateful for anything they get from Sony because they don't have to give you anything. True, they should of had a better firewall up, for that i can not defend them on but this does not make them any worse than xbox. They have hackers who actually can take money from you via microsoft points and potentially disrupt your gamer card and, in worse cases, have you banned from playing online !! With this aside, the ps3 is a well-built machine with amazing games on it, so do not knock on something like this and be aware that "x-spot" like to over-hype stories to get the viewer counts up

Tyler9
Tyler9

Fair enough. However Sony is offering 12 month free identity theft insurance to anyone with a PSN account who wants it. Come on Gamespot, you are gaming journalists, I know you are aware of this, posting an article like this and ignoring this is flat out bias. So giving free games, rental movies, and identity theft protection is more than enough, what else would you want them to do?

the_requiem
the_requiem

@ggred: Very good points very well made. But I'd use same information for different argument. It is not that difficult to get ANY of that information. We fill out all sorts of forms with personal information all the time [talking about real world, not online]. Being a security person you would already know the power of social engineering and how any secure system is as secure as weakest link and that weakest link is always the human factor. What am trying to say is, our "identity" has never been safe. Does it give Sony a free pass? No. But need to realize that *WE* need to prepare ourselves with assumption that someone already has access to our personal information. What does it mean? Well, for a CC holder it means keep regular tabs, ALL the time. Would be good if all considered this a wakeup call and stayed vigilant always.

brian419
brian419

I'm really surprized seeing this article.It was unforunate what happened to PSN . I play 360 and PS3 both online, but you can't live in fear,you can get hacked anywhere on the internet if you aren't carefull.Change your password from time to time and only use pre-paid cards.Problem solved.I think the free games and stuff Sony is offering are a good peace offering.Take your free games and enjoy your system.I think this article was pointless! I think most of the people that work on this site like to stir the pot. I'm a fan of both consoles and think it's time to move on and quit hashing the obvious!

The_CJ_Dude
The_CJ_Dude

What else do you expect Sony to do? Don't look a gift-horse in the mouth. They have offered a good deal as an apology... be thankful for it. Moan at the pathetic hackers. THEY have your stuff.