BlackHat 2011: Sony Wins ‘Pwnie’ Award for ‘Most Epic Fail’

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I’m not sure piling more shame on Sony for falling prey to malicious hackers is helping The Cause (you might even call it superfluous) but don’t tell the guys at the Vegas-based BlackHat U.S.A. 2011 conference, who just handed the PlayStation publisher a “Most Epic Fail” award at this year’s Pwnies. The Pwnies (from “pwn,” or bored-with-the-English-language-speak for “own”) style themselves as an annual awards celebration of “the achievements and failures of security researchers and the security community.”

In this case, the “Most Epic Fail” award refers to the monthlong period this spring during which Sony’s PlayStation Network was scuppered after hackers infiltrated the system and absconded with the personal information of over 70 million PSN members.

(LIST: Who’s Who in the U.K. Phone-Hacking Scandal)

Other companies nominated for the award (of five total) included Sony, Sony, Sony and Sony. The competition was reportedly fierce, but in the end, the winner was…Sony.

“After Fail0verflow and GeoHot published how to jailbreak the PS3, Sony got a bit miffed,” reads one of Sony’s nominations. “Apparently unfamiliar with how the Internet works and how difficult it is to remove the p*** from a swimming pool, Sony proceeded to try erase [sic] the information from the Internet and sue GeoHot et al. into oblivion. Needless to say, this was about as successful as the MiniDisc.”

And another nomination: “After learning the hard way that their PlayStation Network was about as porous as air, Sony had to shut it down for over two months to rebuild it from scratch. In doing so, they made everyone from your 8-year old cousin to your barber learn about the importance of security. Hooray for us, sorry Sony shareholders.”

Sony voluntarily took its PlayStation Network (and related online services like Qriocity) offline on April 20th and didn’t turn the switch back on (and then, only in part) until May 14th. The rest of the network didn’t resume service until early June.

Other Pwnie awards included one for “Best Song,” awarded to notorious Sony hacker George “Geohot” Hotz for the following not-entirely-safe-for-work rap video:


The Black Hat conference describes itself as “the biggest and most important technical security conference series in the world…serving the information security community by delivering timely, actionable security information in a friendly, vendor-neutral environment.”

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Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.