My 5/1/11 Missoulian column
When it comes to computers, I’m not a gamer at all. Never have been, probably never will be. I’m in front of a screen so much that when I need a break, I go outside and walk the dog or dig in the garden.
But I know how dedicated (even fanatical) gamers can be, and so even I can tell there is huge outrage at Sony right now for a hacking incident that exposed personal data from the Playstation Network and from Sony’s PR flub that came after.
The hack exposed the info of millions of Playstation Network users; at very least, names, addresses, passwords and emails. But millions of credit card numbers may be lost, too, because data chunks of thousands of credit card numbers are supposedly already for sale in hacker communities online.
Sony is rebuilding the Playstation network, they say, which may mean it was a serious hack. What’s interesting is that the network hack may have been possible because of Playstation users who modify their own consoles to access other features not usually available. The altered firmware that allows extra gaming capabilities was distributed and may have revealed vulnerabilities in the Playstation network.
But Sony’s PR about the incident at blog.us.playstation.com will end up in as a textbook example on how not to do PR.
What really enrages Playstation gamers is that fact that the network went dark for days without explanation. And when explanations came, they weren’t exactly forthcoming about what really happened.
The boilerplate text at the news site doesn’t quite make the cut: “Thank you very much for your patience while we work to resolve this matter. Please stay tuned to this space for more details, and we’ll update you again as soon as we can.”
If you don’t believe me, check out the 500+ posts at the Playstation blog. Even though the posts can be in a difficult to parse (at least for an old guy like me) acronymical speech (something like texting shorthand) and in a vernacular just for hardcore gamers, the anger lights up the screen.
The posts begin as curious (“what’s up with the network?”) and evolve over the days into rumors of a hack. Currently, there are as many variations of outrage and “WTF” as one can imagine.
I’ve seen gamers in the midst of a online marathon taking a sustenance break in a convenience store, I know enough not to get between them and the sugar and caffeine. I’m glad I’m not a PR person at Sony right now.