Sony's PlayStation, Entertainment Network Breaches: 10 Possible Results

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2011-05-03

Sony's PlayStation, Entertainment Network Breaches: 10 Possible Results

Sony's PlayStation Network, which lets consumers play games and access multimedia content, is still unavailable as the company works to improve its security. The saga started last month when a single hacker broke into Sony's servers and stole customer information. According to Sony, credit card data was encrypted, but personal user information was not, causing some to wonder what will come next.

For Sony, the next step is getting PlayStation Network and Qriocity back online and available to all of its customers. But for those customers and even Sony, the next several months could be marked by more trouble, more apologies and growing concerns that the data that was stolen is being used to the detriment of the more than 100 million PlayStation Network, Qriocity and now Sony Online Entertainment users around the world.

The next several months could be telling as Sony attempts to rebuild its brand and prove that it can once again be trusted with consumer information.

Read on to learn about what could result from the massive data breach of Sony's gaming and entertainment sites.

1. Sony's decline in the gaming business?

Prior to the PlayStation Network breach, Sony was gaining ground in the gaming market. The company's PlayStation 3 was catching on with more consumers than before, and both Nintendo and Microsoft were forced to finally worry about the console. But then the PlayStation Network breach occurred. Now, it's quite possible that Sony's operation in the gaming business could be negatively affected for years to come.

2. An issue with online gaming?

Although the breach occurred on Sony's PlayStation Network, it's quite possible that it could impact the entire online-gaming market. Consumers who are worried that the issue could happen again might leave Xbox Live and hurt Microsoft. Then again, they might only leave Sony's offering and stick with Microsoft's option. In either case, expect a noticeable shift in the online-gaming space going forward.

3. Personal-security issues for months to come?

As of this writing, Sony has said that it has not found any evidence of identity theft occurring around the world because of the breach. However, the company said that it will help customers enroll in identity-theft-prevention services in case such a problem erupts. Although that's better than nothing, it indicates that personal-security problems could be around for months (if not, years) to come.

4. A wake-up call

If nothing else, the PlayStation Network breach should be a wake-up call for consumers. Although Microsoft and Windows are typically panned for causing security problems, Sony's breach proves that issues can occur anywhere a Web connection is available. Hopefully this breach will energize consumers to start thinking more seriously about how they share personal information and the risk they take every time they do so.

Hackers Likely to Continue Efforts


5. Security firms get going

Though much of the focus in the security space is in protecting the desktop and now mobile phones, it wouldn't be all that surprising if security firms attempt to capitalize on the PlayStation Network breach. Expect solutions for protecting personal information to continue to crop up from vendors who see an opportunity to help customers.

6. Continued targeting

The fun isn't over for Sony, Microsoft or any other online-gaming provider. Now that hackers have been able to breach Sony's defenses and steal private information, they will likely only continue those efforts. Sony might have enlisted the help of criminal investigators to help in this case, but that won't be enough to stop malicious hackers. A success only inspires them to try again and again.

7. Microsoft's attempt to capitalize

Microsoft should (and likely will) use the PlayStation Network breach as an opportunity. For one, the company can beef up its Xbox Live security to ensure such a problem doesn't occur on its service. It can also be the so-called "safe" destination for those who don't necessarily trust Sony any longer. In the coming months, look for Microsoft to use Sony's troubles for its own gain. After all, who can blame it?

8. More jarring details

Though Sony wasn't so forthcoming when its service was initially hacked, the company has come a long way in being more open about the breach. However, in the coming months, as Sony starts to lick its wounds, expect many more details to emerge. Unfortunately, those details might be jarring to those who currently subscribe to the PlayStation Network. As with everything else in the technology industry, it could take months to gain a full understanding of the nature and scope of the breach.

9. A management shake-up

It's no surprise that this massive security breach has prompted critics to call for Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer to step down. They say that this is the last straw for the executive, who has committed several missteps at Sony as of late. It's hard to refute their logic. When a security breach of this monumental size takes place people are usually replaced. This incident is so egregious it looks like Sony's network infrastructure was weakly protected and an inviting target for hackers. Heads should certainly roll and not just the IT executives who were in charge of security. Considering the trouble Sir Howard finds himself in over this latest breach, it might not be long before he's forced to step aside.

10. A return to the old ways

All this talk of potentially negative effects of the PlayStation Network breach after the service is restored leaves out one other possible result: a return to status quo. So far, Sony has handled the breach quite well. And as more details emerge, it seems that the company did a satisfactory job of protecting important data. If Sony plays its cards right and the mainstream starts to focus on other things, the PlayStation Network and Qriocity might just return to the way things were before the breach. And all this will be forgotten. 

Rocket Fuel