This is affecting more and more people, and is going to be a long-term problem for a lot of people. If you haven’t heard, Sony announced that there were very serious security problems on PSN. PSN is the network for Sony’s Playstation 3 product. They eventually announced that all of the personal information gathered by PSN was compromised. This means names, some addresses, e-mail addresses, some phone numbers, and credit card numbers; basically everything PSN had could have been stolen. This affected over 100 million users. The only safe thing turned out to be credit card security numbers and those were only safe because the site did not store those in their records.
The immediate fallout; Sony had to shut down PSN, and it’s still down as I am writing this. This means all online functionality of the PS3 has not been working for a couple of weeks. This affects 3rd party developers who are delaying game releases and aren’t able to sell or charge for online content available thru PSN. Sony stock is down, admittedly not by much. But as this crisis goes along I believe downward is the only real direction the stock is going to take for quite some time. Sony is well diversified across the technology sector which will help to cushion the hit, but the Playstation and gaming side is a big part of Sony’s presence. And this couldn’t have happened at a worse time in the life of Sony’s console. It’s been running in 3rd ever since its release behind Nintendo’s Wii and Microsoft’s Xbox 360. The average lifespan of videogame consoles has been about 5 years, and we are very much on the downhill side of that. Rival Nintendo has already announced details of its next console launch. Sony was the clear looser of this round of the console wars, despite having what I considered to be the best hardware of the bunch. It was less glitchy and more dependable than the Xbox, and was considerably more powerful than the Wii.
But enough of how the hack affected the company, users were the real victims of this malicious attack. Gamers worldwide are having to go thru the inconvenience of not being able to use PSN for a month, and also having to change credit cards and monitor their bank accounts. Worse still are the parents of kids who got a PSN account for their kids. They don’t even use the service and have to go thru all the identity theft hassle. But an even worse off group of victims has yet to even find out how much trouble they are in for.
Say a kid saves up for a PS3, or his parents buy one for him. It’s common enough for a parent to not want to sign his kid up for online content. Or even for a kid to not want to ask for the credit card number knowing his parent would object. It’s also unfortunately common for a kid to steal that credit card number, knowing that as long as very few charges show up, a parent might not notice. Some of those kids might fess up in the face of this security problem. And some will be too afraid of getting in trouble, and might attempt to wait it out and hope they are one of the lucky ones.
That’s not a good idea. This information is gone, it’s out there now. Someone affected could go for a few years without any problems, and then have their credit cards compromised. It’s very scary, so here’s a tip. If your kid has a PS3, just ask them if there’s a chance their secure information was stolen in the hack. Make sure you tell them you will treat them fairly and you won’t get mad. Making sure your information is safe is more important than getting angry at your kids. If it’s possible that your information has been stolen, contact your bank or financial advisor. They will take you step by step thru what you need to do to protect yourself. Then you can punish your kids. My suggestion, cancel the PSN account. This punishes them for stealing and or lying, and punishes Sony for having terrible security and customer service. Make them work to earn it back, and make them pay for it when the credit card statements come in. That’s a lot of lawn mowin’ and toilet scrubbin’.