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PSN Outage Hits Sixth Day; Report Blames Credit Card Scamming Firmware

Jonathan Lester
Games news, Piracy, PSN, Scam, Sony

PSN Outage Hits Sixth Day; Report Blames Credit Card Scamming Firmware

The PSN server outage has entered its sixth day, and user discontent is reaching fever pitch (as you can plainly see in Felix's recent response to the situation). Unfortunately Sony believes that we way need to wait a while longer for a "time intensive" fix - but a new report suggests that the shutdown may have been a reaction to the release of custom firmware that allows users to download content with fake credit card details. We've got the full story below.

On the Playstation Blog, corporate communications exec Patrick Seybold has kept up the wall of silence surrounding the cause of the problem, but states that Sony are working on a "time intensive" to bring the network back up to speed. Patience is a virtue.

I know you are waiting for additional information on when PlayStation Network and Qriocity services will be online. Unfortunately, I don't have an update or timeframe to share at this point in time.

As we previously noted, this is a time intensive process and we're working to get them back online quickly. We'll keep you updated with information as it becomes available. We once again thank you for your patience.

That's all well and good, but the majority of PSN subscribers would very much like to know who's behind the outages - and a new report from VentureBeat (via EG) suugests that Sony may have voluntarily switched off the servers in order to implement a defence against new custom firmware that hit the internet last week. Known as Rebug.me, this homebrew firmware reportedly allows its users to enter fake credit card details to freely download PSN content by accessing a developer network - and naturally, Sony would have been keen to nip this in the bud.

We're not necessarily convinced that PSN would have been down this long (denying legitimate users the opportunity to pay for content and losing the company massive amounts of potential revenue) for this reason, but we'll keep you up to date with the latest.

Add a comment7 comments
ODB  Apr. 26, 2011 at 11:16

The original Moderators post that kicked this off is interesting, I saw this earlier today but its also linked on the VentureBeat page:

Ok, I've seen a bunch of speculation of why people think PSN is down, and I thought I should just post what the community knows in comparison to what Sony is telling everyone. The truth is, there was a new CFW (custom firmware) released known as Rebug (http://rebug.me). It essentially turns a retail console into a dev console (not fully, but gives you a lot of the same options that usually dev's only have access to). Anyway, this new CFW was quickly figured out by 3rd parties (not Rebug) to give CFW users access to the PSN network again via the dev networks. With a little manipulation of the URL's through a proxy server you could get your hacked console back online. Not that big of a deal, right? Well, it also turns out that some people over at NGU found out that you could provide fake CC# info and the authenticity of the information was never checked as you were on Sony's private developer PSN network (essentially a network that Sony trusted). What happened next was extreme piracy of PSN content. Sony realizing the issue here shut down the network. Now, before you go freaking out about the latest information posted about Kotaku, no ones personal information was accessible via this hack. Not to say they couldn't get it, but no one is admitting to it being available. Anyway, that's the real reason for the PSN downtime. Sony is now rebuilding all of it's PSN servers to be more secure and (hopefully) make sure the CFW users cannot get online anymore.

Edit #1: To those of you saying that this is speculation, you are correct. But, it is speculation based on a lot of facts and the outcome seems to make the most sense.
1. Rebug was released on 3/31/11.
2. First guides of how to use the dev network to get back on COD games on 4/3/11. 3. Word of "shady" sites finding a way to pirate PSN content via the dev networks on 4/7/11 (basing this on posts I had to delete on the website). 4. PSN goes down on 4/20/11

Now, you can believe Sony's PR team which has kept you completely in the dark, or you can see the list of events above and come to your own conclusion. Now, this isn't the first time Sony has fought back against the PS3 modders from getting on PSN. A couple of months ago we had a utility called f*ckPSN that changed the necessary header information that was being sent to Sony to allow modified consoles back online. We were able to use it for about a month. Then came the new TOS, the mass e-mail to PS3 customers, and software update 3.56 and 3.60. So, once again, yes this is all speculation, but it is speculation based on previous actions and known facts.

Edit #2: Mathieulh just mentioned that he has been in contact with someone that has official access to the SCE devnet servers and it was posted to them today that only 3.60+ debug firmwares will be allowed on the dev network anymore. All earlier versions will be cut. If you want to retain your access you need to contact Sony and upgrade to 3.60 debug firmware.

Edit #3: Ok, it looks like some various news sites have picked up this story and taken it out of context. Once again, this is all speculation and information gathered from various devs in the PS3 scene. It might very well not be the real reason PSN is down, but as the timeline fits, it's a reasonable explanation. Now, as to Rebug directly allowing this to happen, that's not the case at all. Different CFW's have had access to the dev network the whole time. This is not new news for people in the PS3 scene. It's what people have figured out what to do with the said network that has caused all the recent issues. Saying that Rebug is what did this is like saying a gun manufacturer is responsible for every death that happens with a gun.

Jonathan Lester  Apr. 26, 2011 at 11:39

Nice post, ODB, and a great bit of detail for readers who want more information on the subject.

As you said, there's still no official confirmation on the matter - and it's very possible that we'll never get it. After all, Sony will come under fire if they're forced to admit that the network was taken down for so long *voluntarily* in order to implement defences against Rebug CFW.

Russell  Apr. 26, 2011 at 12:23

There is too much wrong info being bandied around over this outage, especially on Twitter and Facebook. Most of this stems from the fact Sony are not keeping PSN users, or the press, up to date with what has happened, and what they are doing to fix it.

ODB  Apr. 26, 2011 at 13:04


Sony are doing themselves no favours here at all. Why is it down? Who's behind it being down? Have our card details been stolen? etc etc

The last one is most important. If card details are safe...TELL US SO WE DON'T HAVE TO BE CONCERNED. If they arent safe....TELL US SO WE CAN CANCEL THEM

Disgusting that Sony cannot/will not issue a statement on that alone! The fact they havent said anything to means 1 of 2 things. Either they have and they dont want to admit it OR they havent but this latest story is true and they have shut down to save themselves money

I NEVER thought I'd see the day where a company made MS look good!

Jonathan Lester  Apr. 26, 2011 at 14:31

"Either they have and they dont want to admit it OR they havent but this latest story is true and they have shut down to save themselves money."

Yep. Regardless of whether this latest story is entirely true, Sony will find it difficult to admit that they shut their servers down purposefully without attracting a massive backlash from disgruntled users. However, they are legally entitled to do so according to the T&Cs.

The lack of information is arguably doing more damage to consumer confidence than the outage itself, and we agree that Sony should be more forthcoming about what ISN'T worth worrying about as well as the cause of the problem. A little reassurance would go a long way.

The Gamer  Apr. 26, 2011 at 14:34

Sony aren't doing themselves any favors with the updates they're giving on the situation which pretty much amount to "we have no further information at this time". That isn't an update!

Gunn  Apr. 26, 2011 at 14:35

I obviously don't know the full details of such an update but it sounds like changing the DEV accounts to authenticate real CC info, wouldn't be a huge deal and they could have sorted this by now and issued a new FW update.


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