PlayStation Network Down for Fifth Day as Sony ‘Rebuilds’ from ‘Intrusion’ (Updated)

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A holiday weekend without Portal 2 or Mortal Kombat matchups, a five-day grand total of uninterrupted void, and yes, Sony’s PlayStation Network remains in the fetal position as we pull into Monday, April 25.

[UPDATE: Sony Admits Personal Info at Risk, Claims PSN Back Up In a Week]

We still know virtually nothing about what happened, or why. Sony says the outage is its own fault, that it shut the PlayStation Network down preemptively after an “external intrusion.” The implication is thus that the PSN might have continued to run otherwise. Sony shut things down voluntarily to ensure things were smooth “going forward.”

That’s as dramatic a move as they come. It’s Sony admitting the PlayStation Network had fatal security and performance holes. What else would prompt the world’s fifth largest media monolith to–without warning last Wednesday, April 20–cut off over 70 million PSN customers, then keep them offline for going on a week?

Sony’s latest informational update, posted on Saturday, reiterates that both the PlayStation Network and Qriocity (Sony’s media streaming service) have been “suspended”:

Our efforts to resolve this matter involve re-building our system to further strengthen our network infrastructure. Though this task is time-consuming, we decided it was worth the time necessary to provide the system with additional security.

My bet is that Sony was aware, well before this outage, that the PlayStation Network had certain innate and terminal vulnerabilities. The network was brought low recently due to attacks by hacktivist group Anonymous. No doubt Sony’s network and systems engineers had their plates full poring over router and server logs, identifying holes, applying band-aids, and positing long-term solutions. Those solutions likely involved re-architecting the system to bolster its defenses. In fact I’d wager Sony’s info-tech elite already put it in the form of an ultimatum to Sony corporate, something like “Either do this, or we’re operating with a target on our backs.” This latest “intrusion” (Anonymous claims it wasn’t involved) simply served as an “opportunity” to implement those changes.

I called the outage a “disaster” for Sony last Thursday, which it was, already, at that time. I’m not sure what to call it fours days on, but if this rebuild doesn’t solve the problem (and what better way to unintentionally goad a hydra-headed enemy than to imply you’ve built a better “unsinkable” ship?) calling it a “disaster’s” going to by contrast sound like putting lipstick on a bandicoot.

Update: Sony spokesperson Patrick Seybold just popped another missive off via the PlayStation blog, stating they “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.

The possibility’s also been raised that customer info may have been extracted during the “intrusion.” Speaking to PC World, Sony Computer Entertainment Japan spokesperson Satoshi Fukuoka said the company “has not yet determined if the personal information or credit card numbers of users have been compromised, but that Sony would promptly inform users if it found that was the case.”