Sony Restores PS4 Service on PlayStation Game Network

Sony Corp. (6758) restored service for the PS4 game console on its PlayStation Network, according to a company statement on its website today in Tokyo. The recovery came three days after Sony’s online gaming operation and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s Xbox Live were hit by connection failures on Christmas Day.

Service was restored for Microsoft on Dec. 26, while the PlayStation Network briefly returned online yesterday for the PS3 and PS Vita game consoles. Sony said yesterday some users were experiencing difficulty logging into the network. Hackers calling themselves Lizard Squad claimed responsibility for the disruptions.

The game networks were attacked on the same day Sony released “The Interview” online and in independent theaters, after major U.S. cinema chains decided not to show the movie following hacking incidents at the company’s film and TV studio last month. A different group called Guardians of Peace claimed responsibility for infiltrating Sony Pictures Entertainment’s servers, destroying data, exposing Hollywood secrets and forcing the studio temporarily to cancel the film’s release.

“It’s not yet clear whether it’s just an outage of the PlayStation Network or if some personal data has been stolen too,” Hideki Yasuda, a Tokyo-based analyst at Ace Research Institute, said on Dec. 25.

Lizard Squad, which took credit for an attack on Sony earlier this year, said on its Twitter account that it was behind the incidents. The group said it would “stop hitting” the services if users called attention to the hack by retweeting its statements.

Christmas Release

“The Interview,” a comedy about a fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was shown in more than 300 locations on Christmas Day without incident, and was also available for rent and purchase at the Xbox store, a Sony website and Google Play, among others. It topped the charts of the Xbox store and YouTube’s movie store. The limited release brought in more than $1 million in ticket sales on Christmas Day, Sony Pictures said.

U.S. President Barack Obama blamed North Korea for orchestrating the attacks against Sony Pictures and vowed to respond. North Korea has said it doesn’t know the identity of the hackers claiming responsibility for breaking into Sony’s computer network.

North Korea blamed the U.S. for an Internet outage it experienced, calling Obama “reckless in words and deeds” and charging him with forcing the release of the movie.

‘Chief Culprit’

“U.S. President Obama is the chief culprit,” the National Defence Commission said in a statement carried yesterday by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency. When Sony Pictures said it would withdraw the film, “Obama urged it to unconditionally screen the movie,” the statement said.

Satoshi Nakajima, a spokesman for Sony’s games unit, said the company was investigating whether the attack on the PlayStation Network was related to the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack.

E-mail and voice-mail messages to David Dennis, a spokesman for Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, weren’t returned.

By streaming the comedy via the Web, Microsoft and Sony took the risk of provoking denial-of-service hacking attacks. The hackers had warned that they intended to target the companies with such incidents on Christmas Day.

Denial-of-service assaults can be difficult to deflect, even if a company has ample warning they’re coming, because they’re executed by thousands of hacked computers performing normal yet database-intensive activities, such as running searches or downloading videos, all at the same time.

Cybercriminals targeted Sony in 2011 after it sued a young researcher when he exposed security vulnerabilities in the PlayStation 3 console. The 2011 hack involved the theft of personal data on 77 million PSN users.

“Last time the network was down for a month and PS4 sales were little affected,” Ace Research’s Yasuda said. “A network outage won’t prevent people from buying the PS4. And this time it comes after the peak shopping season, too.”

Sony shares fell 0.3 percent to 2,550.5 yen at the close on Dec. 26 in Tokyo, compared with a 0.4 percent advance by Japan’s benchmark Topix (TPX) index.

Source: Bloomberg