Sony rolling out 'Welcome Back' program for PSN users

PlayStation Network users to get 30 free days PlayStation Plus, free "entertainment content" for download following outage; some services going back online this week, PlayStation Store coming back later this month.

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On Tuesday, Sony said that some services of the PlayStation Network would come back online within a week. Today, the company gave a comprehensive response to the ongoing PSN outage in which it identified exactly which aspects of the network would be coming back online.

Basic PlayStation Network service will be restored next week.
Basic PlayStation Network service will be restored next week.

According to senior director of corporate communications and social media Patrick Seybold, online gameplay for both the PlayStation 3 and PSP will be restored later this week. PlayStation Home will also be back, as will friends lists and chat functionality.

Account management will also be back online in the coming week, but all PS3s will have a mandatory system update that will require users to change their PSN passwords. The update will also require that players change the password either on the PS3 on which their account was activated or through a validated e-mail confirmation.

At a press conference in Tokyo, Sony Corporation executive deputy president Kaz Hirai offered his apologies for the outage. He also said that the PlayStation Store would not be back in the next week and would instead return later in the month.

Sony also laid out the specifics of the attack and what it is doing to prevent further such intrusions. The company said the attack happened at the company's data center located in San Diego, California, where Sony reportedly enlisted the local branch of the FBI's cybercrimes division. Today, Hirai confirmed that the FBI was on the case.

Hirai said that some 10 million credit card numbers may have been exposed as a result of the breach. He told a reporter that it was unclear what the motive behind the attack was. Last month, the PSN was attacked by the hacker collective known as Anonymous in retaliation for Sony suing PS3 hacker George "GeoHot" Hotz. Anonymous has denied being part of the PSN outage and data breach, but the decentralized nature of the collective means rogue elements could have been involved.

Sony reps said that in response to the breach, the company has implemented additional firewalls, added "enhanced levels of data protection and encryption," and implemented extra measures to detect software attacks on the network. Sony is also creating an all-new position of chief information security officer, directly reporting to Sony Corp. chief information officer Shinji Hasejima.

As a make-good to the now-78 million PSN users across the globe, Sony will be initiating a "welcome back" program as a token of appreciation for its customers' patience. This program will offer every PSN user a free month of PlayStation Plus, with current PlayStation Plus members getting a complimentary month of the service. Each territory will also be getting free "entertainment content" downloads as part of the program, although details on exactly what the content will be are currently not available. Sony also said they would "provide a complimentary offering to assist users in enrolling in identity theft protection services and/or similar programs."

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