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UPDATED! PSN network failure: What happened, who's to blame and when it'll get fixed

Or why PSN failure '80710a06' is currently hotter than Cheryl Cole.

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From 4Chan:

"You have now received the undivided attention of Anonymous. Your recent legal action against our fellow hackers GeoHot and Graf_Chokolo has not only alarmed us, it has been deemed wholly unforgivable. You have victimized your customers for merely possessing information, and continue to target every person who seeks this information. In so doing you have violated the privacy of thousands."

Or so it was assumed, but Anonymous deny any involvement with the PSN outage, in yet another spectacular video.

Truth told, the very nature of Anonymous makes it hard to attribute blame in the Miss Marple 'whodunnit' sense - unless they can get its myriad globe-spanning members into some kind of virtual drawing room.

So who *is* responsible? And what's Sony's explanation?

All Sony have confirmed is that PSN is down due to an 'external intrusion', as outlined by Sony Communications Chief Patrick Seybold. Whether it's Anonymous or whoever, *someone* has clearly hacked into PSN, creating a security/service delivery problem too big for Sony to ignore - so they've been forced to pull the plug.

So the real reason is...

An article on Reddit seems to offer the most credible explanation of why PSN is down, and this tallies with industry rumours and various off-the-record chats. In short: somebody worked out how to get PSN content for free, and increasing amounts of people were helping themselves to free games, as CVG reports .

Further rumours suggest hackers may have had access to PSN personal details and - most worryingly - credit card details, but the risk 'isn't substantial', claims Ars Technica (via CVG). We're yet to hear of a single case of credit card theft, and it does seem an unlikely scenario, given how unpopular it would make the noble 'freedom of speech' Anonymous cause.

***UPDATE: Well, it looks like personal information has been taken but, so far, no one is reporting a credit card theft. See the full Sony statement for more details****

What are Sony doing about it?

After the initial announcement by Seybold, the only other update from Sony is this: "We will announce through our websites as soon as there are any updates. We are currently investigating to determine the cause of this outage and are working to restore and maintain the services. Since this is an overall security related issue, we will not be providing further commentary for this case."

From what we understand, Sony will be issuing a formal statement via Japan soon, but since the PSN is effectively being rebuilt to tighten its security, the company is loathe to commit to a time-scale for when PSN will be back online. We're guessing/hoping this is a case of the classic 'under-promise and over-deliver' PR strategy, so the rumours about an indefinite delay actually result in only another day or so without PSN.

We'll see.

What's the real damage to Sony and PS3?

Six days without PSN support is a huge inconvenience for PS3 owners, but given that the service is essentially free (bar the minority of PS+ subscribers), and that the outage is due to factors beyond Sony's control, it's hard to be too critical. You could, of course, trace everything back to Sony's excessive force in chasing down Hotz, plus the earlier hacker-baiting removal of Linux/Other O/S support. Sony's insistence on control has come back to bite them, is the poetically lyrical conclusion.

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