Sony Online Entertainment Restores Game Services

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Uncategorized

From SOE.com:

Services Return Following Implementation of Increased Security Measures; Consumer Data Protection a Full-Time, Company-Wide Commitment

SAN DIEGO, May 14, 2011 – Sony Online Entertainment LLC (SOE) announced today that restoration of its game services will begin today. The phased restoration will include the return of nearly all of SOE’s portfolio of online games, the reinstatement of SOE’s game forums and websites, and added functionality to require players to reset their passwords.

Increased Security Measures
As the result of a criminal cyber-attack on the company’s network, SOE shut down its game services in order for the company to undertake an investigation and incorporate rigorous enhancements to the overall security of the network infrastructure. SOE worked with several outside respected security firms during the course of implementing significant security measures that strengthen safeguards against unauthorized activity and provide customers with greater protection of their personal information.

SOE made enhancements to overall data security as well, including updating and adding advanced security technologies, additional software monitoring, performing new penetration and vulnerability testing, and increased levels of encryption.

EQ2 Back Online!!!

Written by Dethdlr on . Posted in Uncategorized

That’s right! The servers are back up! I’ll let Feldon fill in details or replace this with a “real” article about the servers being back up. I’m headed in to play! Just wanted to get the word out. WE’RE UP!

From Everquest2.com:

Restoration of SOE’s game services will begin today. This phased restoration will include the return of nearly all of our portfolio of online games, the reinstatement of our game forums and websites, and added functionality to require players to reset their passwords.

SOE Billing Stopped May 2nd, Credit Authorization Process Caused Later Charges

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Uncategorized

On Facebook, in the #eq2 chatroom, on guild websites, and yes on EQ2Flames, players have been chiming in that they have been charged by SOE on May 2nd and beyond, with some customers seeing charges hitting as late as May 3rd, 4th, 5th, and even May 6th, well after the games went down. Is it time to call Shenanigans? Is SOE’s billing department on the rampage?

We certainly thought so, and ran a story about it (we’ve since pulled the story, but the comments are still visible). With communications in and out of SOE tighter than a snare drum, it’s been nearly impossible to verify just what was going on, and with comments on SOE’s Facebook page about this issue having received little attention, we felt it necessary to post a story on the issue. However it was not our lucky day (Friday the 13th and all that), and of course there was more to this story.

Is SOE Still Billing? Looks Like I Got Trolled

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Uncategorized

I woke up this morning to an urgent e-mail from SOE’s Linda Carlson asking if I was able to verify that customers had in fact been billed since the SOE downtime started on May 2nd.

I went with the story that billing was still happening based on direct comments in the #eq2 chat, comments on the SOE Facebook wall, and of course some comments on EQ2Flames. It seemed unlikely that people on all 3 sites would lie about being billed after SOE services went offline. But you know what they say about assuming.

If it turns out that I’ve been trolled, well then I’m pretty sure it will be the dwarf tossing me in the pool at Fan Faire.

A Few More Days… And “Make Good” Details

Written by Dethdlr on . Posted in Uncategorized

Posted on SOE’s security website:

May 12, 2011

We thank you for your patience as we continue to work around the clock to restore our game services. We know this has been a frustrating time for you and appreciate your understanding as we work to confirm the security of our network.

In light of the recent outage of Sony Online Entertainment’s game services due to April’s cyber-attack, we are committed to compensating our loyal player base for the inconvenience caused by the data breach and lost game time while we improve our security measures.

We are currently in the process of an extensive upgrade to our network to further protect your information from future attacks. It will likely be at least a few more days before we restore our services, and when we come back online, here is what you can expect for each of our game services.

First and foremost, all impacted players will receive 30 days of game time added to the end of the current billing cycle in addition to one day for each day the system is down. Additionally, many games are offering a variety of in-game items and special events to welcome players back once our services resume (per the outline below). This is true for both PC and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system based products.

  • EverQuest II and EverQuest II Extended: A series of events, including Double XP, Double Guild XP, Loot Bonanza, and City Festivals

For our lifetime subscribers, we’ll grant in-game currency; specifically 20,000 coins for Free Realms, 7,500 Galactic Credits for Clone Wars Adventures and 10 Marks of Distinction for DC Universe Online (in addition to the items listed above).

And finally, our Station Access subscribers will receive 500 Station Cash, in addition to the subscription time and items listed above.

Additionally, we announced today that SOE will provide its U.S.-based Station Account holders with complimentary enrollment in an identity theft protection program through Debix, one of the industry’s most reputable identity protection firms. For Station Account holders who live outside the U.S., SOE will be offering similar programs, if and as available, and will provide details as they’re confirmed for each country or territory.

We continue to work around the clock to restore SOE’s services and thank you for your continued patience as we complete our investigation of this criminal attack.

Thank you,
Sony Online Entertainment

Is SOE Still Billing?

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Uncategorized

UPDATE: The contents of this article have been removed until such time as we can verify that credit cards have been charged after May 2nd, the date of the outage.

SOE has e-mailed me to indicate that their Billing system was taken down at the same time as all other Account services. Thus, any charges would have already been authorized or pending prior to that time.

We are attempting to verify that cards have been charged after this date. If you have been billed by SOE after May 2, 2011, please Contact Me.

Sony Online Entertainment Loses Development Chief to Zynga

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Uncategorized

This news has been making the rounds so we thought we’d address it and season with a bit of perspective.

From Kotaku.com:

John Blakely, a nine-year veteran of Sony Online Entertainment and most recently its vice president of development, has apparently left the company for casual-games behemoth Zynga. Blakely’s LinkedIn resumé has him departing SOE as of last month to become general manager at Zynga.

Update: Sony Online Entertainment has confirmed Blakely’s resignation and departure. In a statement provided to Kotaku, SOE thanked him for “the passion and leadership he brought to work every day and fully support him in his future endeavors.”

Blakely successor is Lorin Jameson, executive director of development for SOE, who oversaw all development teams at SOE’s Austin studio for the past five years.

Blakely had worked on Everquest II and D.C. Universe Online. His departure is another bad sign for a division beset by bad news of late, from layoffs following DCUO’s release to the ongoing PlayStation Network breach and outage.

Development?

Development in this case is not programming but more of a Producer role, marked by fostering and shepherding of ideas into new games from the earliest stages through to [software] development, design, and delivery. Blakely would have been involved early on in the establishment of new properties and games.

It”s unlikely that his departure will have much effect on EQ or EQ2. Further, our understanding is that he was operating out of Austin whereas EQNext is a San Diego project. With SOE simultaneously tightening the reins on future projects and focusing on the next couple of years with EQNext, PlanetSide Next, and Facebook games, along with the cancellation of the Agency and delivery of DCUO, the news is hardly surprising at all.

Daily Fail: May 11th Not Today

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Uncategorized

From SOE Facebook:

All SOE games and sites are still offline as of May 11th and will not return today. Thank you again for your continued patience and support as we diligently work on these issues. More information on SOE’s “Make Good” plan to come!

UPDATE: All houses requiring rent will have one month added free to help offset any costs incurred during this outage.

UPDATE 2: Since a few folks seem unaware of this, SOE has already promised 30 days of free subscription plus 1 day for each day the servers are down. This was posted on SOE’s website on May 3rd.

Just Another Manic Monday

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Uncategorized

Although we are unsurprised — restoration of services even by the end of the week now seems unlikely — we bring you the latest news from SOE’s Facebook page as of May 9, 1:55 p.m. PDT:

SOE services will remain offline today. We continue to work diligently to bring things back as quickly as possible and appreciate your continued patience.

PSN Service Restart Date Unknown, No Word on SOE

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Uncategorized

From Bloomberg.com comes an article posted today (May 9, 2011):

Sony Corp. (6758)’s PlayStation Network and Qriocity online services remain shut as of today, Shigenori Yoshida, a Tokyo-based spokesman said. Sony is uncertain when it can resume the services, Yoshida said by phone today.

The company is in the process of adopting an improved security system and its plan to restart the services fully by May 31 is unchanged, he said. Sony shut down the PlayStation Network and Qriocity services April 20 because of possible data theft by hackers.

The maker of PS consoles had planned to restart partial operations within a week after boosting the level of security system, the company said May 1.

Note: We erroneously reported that PSN service had been restored in Japan based on an ill-informed blog. To date, PlayStation Network remains inaccessible in Japan, Europe, Oceania, and the US now over 17 days since it was taken offline.

Meanwhile we’re just coming up on 7 days that Sony Online Entertainment has seen all of their games, websites, forums, and services offline and there has been no word on their possible return date.

Sony Faces Setbacks, Misses PlayStation Network Restoration Date

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Uncategorized

Sony has hit some major setbacks on restoring its PlayStation Network, which affects all PS3 and PSP customers. By extension, this would also prevent Sony Online Entertainment games from coming online, as Sony has indicated that they don’t want to restore service until they can be assured it is secure. This frustrating news is no doubt going to keep us out of our games for quite a bit longer than originally anticipated:

Station, SOE Websites Show Signs of Life, Games Still Shuttered

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Uncategorized

Although SOE games and services remain offline, readers have noticed some curious changes.

Most obvious is that http://www.EverQuest2.com/ and http://www.SOE.com/ are no longer resolving correctly and presenting an error message. The secure version of https://www.SOE.com/ (notice the additional ‘s’) is however online and presenting the same updates we were provided with yesterday.

UPDATE: http://www.SOE.com is now resolving properly to https://www.SOE.com/.

As there has been no announcement from SOE about what the steps will be for users to change their passwords, login, secure their accounts, and start playing again (indeed SOE communication has been nothing short of atrocious — perhaps due to the stipulations of lawyers), it’s unclear what conclusions we should draw from some servers being accessible while others are not. Is this a sign that things are about to open back up, or just a sign that SOE platform aren’t properly securing websites in preparation for the service restoration?

Shabutie did some checks of the DNS information present on different SOE game websites (FreeRealms.com, EverQuest2.com, etc.) and has noticed that they no longer all point to SOE’s main website. This may indicate that things are opening up soon, but without confirmation from anyone at SOE, all we can do is guess.

Although Facebook and Twitter remain mum (their last update was 12 hours ago), maybe today’s the day? Although 4 days is not a terribly long outage considering the complexity of the security breach, the lack of communication has really exacerbated this and made the outage feel a lot longer than it has been. More as we have it…

CNET Blogger: Third Sony Attack Being Planned? The Importance of Attribution

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Uncategorized

When I first encountered this story, I had little interest in reporting it at all. A blogger, however well-intentioned, taking the ramblings of a few script kiddies in an IRC chatroom seriously and posting it as a “CNET Exclusive” seems hardly newsworthy. Journalistic integrity must have some minimum standard. We report things all the time which aren’t from SOE or a press release, but they have SOME basis in fact.

However the story that an attack is planned for this weekend seems to have gotten some traction and is now making the rounds and being quoted by larger news organizations as “reported by CNET”. So we feel we should address it.  Erica Ogg, CNET blogger, has posted an article positing that a third attack on Sony services is being planned for this weekend.

A group of hackers says it is planning another wave of cyberattacks against Sony in retaliation for its handling of the PlayStation Network breach.

Her source?

An observer of the Internet Relay Chat channel used by the hackers told CNET today that a third major attack is planned this weekend against Sony’s Web site. The people involved plan to publicize all or some of the information they are able to copy from Sony’s servers, which could include customer names, credit card numbers, and addresses, according to the source. The hackers claim they currently have access to some of Sony’s servers.

Blogging without sources or attribution is just speculation and should be taken as such. The article reads as if the information has been confirmed with secondary sources. It hasn’t.

Letter from Sony CEO Howard Stringer, Identity Theft Protection for PSN (but not SOE?)

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Uncategorized

Howard Stringer, Sony Corp Chairman and CEO over America, has posted an apology letter and the first details of the Identity Theft protection package that will be provided for free to PlayStation Network customers. No word on if said protection will be made available to Sony Online Entertainment customers.

Dear Friends,

I know this has been a frustrating time for all of you.

Let me assure you that the resources of this company have been focused on investigating the entire nature and impact of the cyber-attack we’ve all experienced and on fixing it. We are absolutely dedicated to restoring full and safe service as soon as possible and rewarding you for your patience. We will settle for nothing less.

To date, there is no confirmed evidence any credit card or personal information has been misused, and we continue to monitor the situation closely. We are also moving ahead with plans to help protect our customers from identity theft around the world. A program for U.S. PlayStation Network and Qriocity customers that includes a $1 million identity theft insurance policy per user was launched earlier today and announcements for other regions will be coming soon.

.

.

In the coming days, we will restore service to the networks and welcome you back to the fun. I wanted to personally reach out and let you know that we are committed to serving you to the very best of our ability, protecting your information better than ever, and getting you back to what you signed up for – all the games and great entertainment experiences that you expect from Sony.

With best regards,
Howard Stringer

The details of the AllClear ID Plus identity theft package now available to PSN customers are available on the PlayStation Blog. As no Sony Online Entertainment customers in North America had their credit card information revealed, this service may not be available for SOE customers.

From Bloomberg.com:

Japan’s biggest consumer-electronics exporter will offer a $1 million insurance policy per user, covering legal expenses, identity-restoration costs and lost wages that occur after data is stolen, Sony said in a blog post. Austin, Texas-based Debix Inc. was hired to provide the monitoring service and similar programs for users in other countries are also being considered, it said.

Sony didn’t elaborate whether the program will cover identity theft that isn’t related to the mid-April breach of the PlayStation and Qriocity networks, which affected 77 million accounts. Separately, some 24.6 million users of the Sony Online Entertainment platform were also affected, the company said.

SCE in Final Stages of Service Restoration

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Uncategorized

As posted on the Playstation Blog at May 5th at 4:30pm PDT:

Today our global network and security teams at Sony Network Entertainment and Sony Computer Entertainment began the final stages of internal testing of the new system, an important step towards restoring PlayStation Network and Qriocity services.

As previously mentioned, we’ve been working around the clock to rebuild the network and enhance protections of your personal data. It’s our top priority to ensure your data is safe when you begin using the services again.

We understand that many of you are eager to again enjoy the PlayStation Network and Qriocity entertainment services that you love, so we wanted you to be aware of this milestone and our progress. We will provide additional updates as soon as we can.

Note: It was pointed out that the article mentions nothing of SOE.

Further Reading on PSN and Anonymous

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Uncategorized

There’s only so much PSN, Anonymous, and Sony news I can post. I mean, what we really want to know is when OUR games and OUR network will be back online. But, if you just crave this type of information, or your enjoyment of your PS3 (when you’re not playing EQ2) has really been cramped by this debacle, well, here is some further reading:

PSN Returning to Japan?, Back Online in US Late Today/Early Tomorrow? No Word on SOE Service

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Uncategorized

UPDATE: Unreliable source used for PSN returning in Japan. PSN service has not been restored anywhere to date.

News is now trickling in that the PlayStation Network, down now for over 2 weeks, has been restored in Japan and headway is being made in bringing at least parts of the service (lacking most notably microtransactions and the PlayStation online store) back to Europe and North America. Unfortunately we have no further timetable on when Sony Online Entertainment services and games will be restored.

According to a completely unsubstantiated comment posted on a blog, there is now a timetable for the restoration of PSN service in Europe and North America:

  • North/East Asia – Tuesday May 3rd (22.00)
  • Europe_ – Wednesday May 4th (22.00)
  • USA – Thursday May 5th (08.00)
  • AUS – Thursday May 5th (14.00)

UPDATE: Obviously this timetable was not correct, as these times have come and gone and Japan, Europe, North America, and Australia remain cut off from the PlayStation Network.

The first step of PSN restoration has been enabling users to change their passwords. It is unclear what credentials and guidelines are being used to ensure identification. We may see a similar situation for SOE, with a password change on a special website being required before we can access our accounts.

Wired’s Threat Level Plays PSN Hack ‘Whodunit’

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Uncategorized

File this under pure speculative analysis, but Wired’s Threat Level has some thoughts on just who (and why) the PlayStation Network (and Sony Online Entertainment) were compromised and records pilfered. If you’d like a little more insight into the players, it’s worth a read:

It’s one of the biggest data breaches in history. Now that Sony has come clean — sort of — on a computer intrusion this month that exposed personal information on 77 million PlayStation Network users, one obvious question remains: Who pulled off the hack?

In the old days, the answer would be simple: some kid did it. But today’s underground is more complicated — a slew of competing players with different agendas and techniques. Here’s a quick rundown on the likely suspects.

They tackle Anonymous, China, the Recreational Hacker, and finally For-Profit Cyberthieves out of Eastern Europe or Russia. Continue at Wired

Will Sony Pay for New Credit Cards, Other Fraud Costs?

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Uncategorized

This is from May 1st but due to some requests I’ve gotten about whether Sony will reimburse customers for any bank-related costs due to the security breach, I thought it was worth highlighting.

From FeedTheGamer:

In this morning’s news conference, Sony Computer Entertainment head Kazuo Hirai said the company would consider covering costs associated with reissuing credit cards to PlayStation Network subscribers who feel their accounts have been compromised by the massive data breach of April 20.

Hirai, noting that there have been no confirmed incidents in which fraud was committed with a credit card number stolen from the PSN breach, said the company has asked the FBI for a criminal investigation of the matter.

While there are 77 million accounts in the PlayStation Network, some are are held by the same household or person. Hirai said the owners of 10 million PSN accounts have been notified that their credit card information may have been compromised. However, the three-digit CVV number on the back of the card, required for purchases over the Internet, was definitely not compromised.

The replacement of a lost or stolen credit card is typically done for a customer for free, but to banks there is a cost of printing, processing and mailing the cards, plus a cost of lost business while the customer waits for a new one. Earlier in the week, news reports pegged the transactional costs of card replacement at between $3 and $5 per card. It’s unclear who Sony would compensate, if it does, or if enough cardholders will ditch their cards to make it an issue that banks complain about to Sony.

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