No compensation will be good enough for the PSN hack

Over the weekend, Sony’s top brass exec Kaz Hirai apologised for the huge PSN network hack and outage, saying that it was the efforts of a “highly sophisticated attack by a skilled intruder”. Sony is offering compensation.

The attack was large enough to have the FBI involved. In fact, it’s possibly the largest data breach in history. Users might be reassured by reports that credit card information was encrypted, but probably not.

There are other reports suggesting the breach could cost up to $300 million in credit card replacements for compromised accounts. With all the bad press you’d expect Sony to come up with a package that would stop its users forming a flash mob, storming the gates and ringing up Nato for air support.

Currently, it seems that users will receive a welcome back package when the service returns. Videogamer says that will mean free PS3 content for download, as well as a complimentary PlayStation Plus package. It’s a token gesture as nothing can compensate for the damage done to Sony’s reputation. Neither will it deal with the damage done to bank accounts and wallets, either through compromised information or the convincing phishing attempts certain to follow.

PlayStation Plus offers an economy plus version of the PSN. It provides exclusive access to beta demos as well as other items you can spend your money on before regular users get the chance.

A 30-day demoing of the service is little to placate furious and frustrated users who find it hard to fathom the security wasn’t in place to deal with the assault in the first place. Specific details are thin as Sony skims on the wrong side of transparency and skates on the thin ice of public disgrace. 

It took Sony too long to fess up. Users were greeted with a maintenance message before it finally came clean and admitted that it had suffered an enormous security breach. Even then, it was slightly longer still until it confirmed credit card details could be compromised. 

The whole affair underlines the catastrophic need to take cyber security deadly seriously, not just in the corporate world but everywhere else, too. 

The best compensation won’t be a limited trial of a jumped-up download service, or a free game or novelty avatar.

The best compensation to users in the long run would be a shift in thinking, a wake-up to the very real threat that storing data in its legion brings. Sony claims it is adding a series of extra measures to make sure nothing like this ever happens again – and other companies should take note of one of the largest PR disasters of our time. 

Reassurance that Sony is on the case probably won’t buoy the confidence of customers. It will be a bitter pill to swallow for the already-unpopular banks to cope with, not to mention the users who will have to deal with the consequences for years to come.