Sony’s PSN Press Conference – What was said

51881-PSN_icon-thumb-200x202-51880.jpg

Sony held a press conference at 2PM (Japan time) to answer questions on the PSN breach. Kazuo Hirai, CEO of Sony, headed the panel with two other officers from the company: Senior VP, Shiro Kambe, and CIO, Shinji Hasejima. Together, they answered questions and provided some explanation for what has been happening. After a short introduction and an opening statement, all three then deeply bowed in a formal demonstration of sincere apology.

Much of what was said was already generally known such as the involvement of the FBI and Homeland Security. However, it was mentioned that the passwords were hashed (giving them some protection) and that Sony reiterated their ongoing efforts to strengthen the network along with their deepest apologies for the inconvenience that this has caused everyone.

They also covered a timeline detailing events from when the intrusion was made between April 17 – 19th and when they shut PSN down on the 20th once detecting it, finally engaging an unnamed “top” security firm in the United States on the 24th to help with their investigations.

Shinji Hasejima, Sony’s CIO, explained that the exploit had gone in appearing as a normal transaction and left the system in the same way, avoiding the conventional security measures they had in place. As with Kazuo Hirai, he promises that stronger measures will be implemented. SNEI (Sony Network Entertainment International) manages the PSN servers’ data center located at an AT&T facility in California.

Kazuo Hirai had also stated they they are not certain that Anonymous is to blame for this breach, referencing only the problems that they have had with the hacktivist group in the past. They still have not determined who the actual perpetrators are. To that end, they are working with law enforcement officials in various countries as the investigation expands.

At one point, it had been mentioned that Sony will cover the fees associated
with the re-issuance of credit cards (presumably such as those a card company may charge for a replacement). When pressed for further details by the press, it was then explained that while there is no clear evidence of leaked credit card info or improper use, if there is illegal usage and the customer suffers damage, then Sony will deal with it on a case by case basis. According to a statement earlier in the conference, there are approximately 10 million
credit cards registered on PSN (out of an estimated 77 million accounts).

A “Welcome Back” program was also mentioned for when PSN returns which includes a thirty day trial period of  PS Plus along with a number of other incentives from their Marketplace as an apology to all affected users.

Update (5.01.11): Playstation Blog has updated with a review of what was stated in the conference as well as noting that PSN and Qriocity services will be rolling out worldwide in phases. Also updated the original article above to reflect that the passwords were actually hashed. If you want to watch the whole thing (which is more than an hour and a half), it’s located here.

New trailer for Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game

Here’s the new preview for “Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game.” This one focuses on the Lego-fication of the Disney franchise’s third installment, “At World’s End.”

The game is scheduled for a May 10 release for Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii, PC, PlayStation 3, Sony PSP and XBox 360.

Today’s Big Story: Sony confirms user data breach

Sony Computer Entertainment confirmed today that the hacker (or hackers) who broke into PlayStation’s Network and Qriosity systems accessed users’ personal information.

PlayStation 3 owners have not been able to access PSN or Qriosity services for about one week. A GamePro
editorial accuses Sony of an “astounding breach of trust” for the delay
in acknowledging the compromise of sensitive information.

The following is from Sony’s  letter to customers  to acknowledging the data breach:

“Although we are still investigating the details of this incident, we
believe that an unauthorized person has obtained the following
information that you provided: name, address (city, state, zip),
country, email address, birthdate, PlayStation Network/Qriocity password
and login, and handle/PSN online ID. It is also possible that your
profile data, including purchase history and billing address (city,
state, zip), and your PlayStation Network/Qriocity password security
answers may have been obtained. If you have authorized a sub-account for
your dependent, the same data with respect to your dependent may have
been obtained.”

“While there is no evidence at this time that credit card
data was taken, we cannot rule out the possibility. If you have provided
your credit card data through PlayStation Network or Qriocity, out of
an abundance of caution we are advising you that your credit card number
(excluding security code) and expiration date may have been obtained,” the letter continued.

Sony shut down PSN and its Qriocity video and music streaming service on April 20. The data breach happened sometime between April 17 and April 19, Sony reported.

Additional coverage:

It’s confirmed: Nintendo has a new console at E3

51897-Nintendo_logo-thumb-200x200-51896.jpg

A number of news outlets on the ‘net from MCV to VG247 have confirmed that Nintendo’s long rumored successor to the Wii is coming out to play at this year’s E3. MCV’s report, in particular, mentions that the new hardware is slated for a 2012 release.

Now the big question on many players’ minds is if it’s going to cater equally to both casuals and ‘hardcore’ gamers.

The distinctions between the two crowds have often been pointed in what games they prefer – hardcores have generally bemoaned the plethora of titles such as Carnival Games and Wii Play, while a game such as Mad World seemed out of place on the console by so-called casuals. It also doesn’t help that its shelves have been flooded by shovelware – cheap games with equally as cheap gameplay – diluting the overall quality of its library. Everyone wanted a piece of the huge Wii pie and Nintendo apparently had no problems in letting them grab for it all at once.

Of course, it’s way too early to tell. It’ll be years before we can see just what the new system is actually capable of and to whom it will mostly appeal to – the games are what will set it apart and we haven’t heard too much about those yet. Likely guaranteed are a new Zelda and Mario game sometime in its future. After all, this is Nintendo.

E3 will have more of the answers – and probably provide as many questions. Only one thing’s for certain: Nintendo hasn’t stopped surprising us yet.

PSN still down. Skynet not to blame (yet).

51881-PSN_icon-thumb-200x202-51880.jpg

According to the TV series, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Skynet was supposed to become self-aware and launch its attack on humanity on April 21st of this year. It’s come and gone, but to members of Sony’s Playstation Network, it’s as if it’s actually happening.

PSN, the free service linking PS3 users together in multiplayer as well as providing the virtual space for Sony’s marketplace, has been down for the past few days. Also affected in the past week was Amazon’s cloud service hurting anything out there riding on top of it, such as certain websites. It’s back in business, though the same can’t be said for PSN which is still down as of this writing.

You might have also heard about a hacktivist group called Anonymous upset over Sony’s heavy-handed handling over PS3 hacker, George Hotz, whose case was settled before going to court. At this point, they haven’t taken responsibility for it and have gone so far as to issue a denial appropriately titled “For Once We Didn’t Do It“. And it’s not like they’re the only ones gunning for Sony nowadays.

All we do know is that Sony has finally admitted to an “external intrusion” of their systems and have taken them offline in order to investigate the issue. As for when they’re coming back, or what that entails exactly, your guess is as good as mine keeping everyone that bought Mortal Kombat and anything else with multiplayer in the past week for the PS3 raging for awhile longer.

Personally, I’d bet on the rogue AI installing itself on everything with a CPU causing this mess. But that’s just me…and anyone named John Connor.

Review: Dynasty Warriors 7 (Xbox 360)

51843-DW7_1-thumb-480x270-51840.jpg

It’s been a decade of Dynasty Warriors. Where other games had died off for refusing to evolve, Koei’s series has defied the odds, marching on thanks to a dedicated fanbase that can’t get enough of tearing through hundreds of costumed cannon fodder without breaking a sweat. It’s the kind of punchy appeal that beat ‘em ups of old had – only with a SHMUP-like attention to body count.

Continue reading

WSJ: Google’s Android phones track users, just like Apple products

Following news that Apple’s popular iPhone and iPad products keep files tracking users’ movements, the Wall Street Journal reports smartphones using Google’s Android operating system transmit users’ locations to Google.

Apple phones also transmit similar data, the Journal reports.

Google and Apple are gathering location information as part of their
race to build massive databases capable of pinpointing people’s
locations via their cellphones. These databases could help them tap the
$2.9 billion market for location-based services–expected to rise to $8.3
billion in 2014, according to research firm Gartner Inc.

In the case of Google, according to new
research by security analyst Samy Kamkar, an HTC Android phone collected
its location every few seconds and transmitted the data to Google at
least several times an hour. It also transmitted the name, location and
signal strength of any nearby Wi-Fi networks, as well as a unique phone
identifier.
(snip)

Cellphones have many reasons to collect location information, which
helps provide useful services like local-business lookups and
social-networking features. Some location data can also help cellphone
networks more efficiently route calls.

Google also has said it uses some of the data to build accurate
traffic maps. A cellphone’s location data can provide details about, for
instance, how fast traffic is moving along a stretch of highway.

The widespread collection of location information is the latest
frontier in the booming market for personal data. Until recently, most
data about people’s behavior has been collected from personal computers:
That data generally can be tied to a city or a zip code, but it is
tough to be more precise. The rise of Internet-enabled cellphones,
however, allows the collection of user data tied with much more
precision to specific locations.

The full story is worth reading.

Reports: Apple iPhones and iPads track users’ every move

Apple’s popular iPhone and iPad products record an unencrypted log of where users take their portable devices, according to several published reports certain to elevate concerns over the potential for consumer electronics to intrude upon privacy.

The data is also stored on any computers synced to iPhones and iPods, according to reports.

From the Associated Press, via San Jose Mercury News:

It’s not clear if other
smartphones and tablet computers are logging such information on their
users. And this week’s revelation that the Apple devices do wasn’t even
new–some security experts began warning about the issue a year ago.

But
the worry prompted by a report from researchers Alasdair Allan and Pete
Warden at a technology conference in Santa Clara, Calif., raises
questions about how much privacy you implicitly surrender by carrying
around a smartphone and the responsibility of the smartphone makers to
protect sensitive data that flows through their devices.

Much
of the concern about the iPhone and iPad tracking stems from the fact
the computers are logging users’ physical coordinates without users
knowing it–and that that information is then stored in an unencrypted
form that would be easy for a hacker or a suspicious spouse or a law
enforcement officer to find without a warrant.

Researchers
emphasize that there’s no evidence that Apple itself has access to this
data. The data apparently stays on the device itself, and computers the
data is backed up to. Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for
comment by The Associated Press


Continue reading

World’s Biggest PAC-MAN

51778-worlds_biggest_pacman-thumb-200x121-51777.jpg

Thanks to a collaboration between Namco Bandai, Microsoft Australia, and Australian digital studio, Soap Creative, the “World’s Biggest PAC-MAN” is here. It was created to help promote future PAC-MAN properties and from the stats, there’s a lot of love out there. Over 274 million dots have been eaten so far in this online game (as of this writing).

Players can also create their own maps that get added to a growing collection of thousands. You’ll see love messages, giant PAC-MAN shaped fields of dots, a cat shaped maze, and giant faces all linked together to provide an ever growing playground of close calls and endless eating. It could be Billy Mitchell’s worst nightmare – or greatest dream.

It’s also free to play. All you need is a computer, a browser, and a lot of time to help wear down your arrow keys. Or a good sense of humor with a dash of devious cunning when you unleash your creativity – as long as you can keep it clean.

Review: Dragon Age 2

51739-DA2-thumb-480x270-51738.jpg

Varric the dwarf knows what makes a good story. A strong character and a
trusty sidekick go a long way, but impossible
odds and an epic scale create staying power.

“Dragon Age 2,” with Varric as its only slightly trustworthy narrator, tracks the rise of the Champion of Kirkwall from refugee to leading citizen. As the champion, Hawke to your friends, Dragon Age 2 is the story of your rise to power. Whether man or woman, peacemaker or warmonger, your Hawke will deal with a good deal of quandaries, no one makes it to the top unscathed.
Continue reading