Was PlayStation Network Data Permanently Deleted In Breach?

By James Brightman

PlayStation Network user data was stolen in the breach of PSN; Sony’s confessed to that. But what’s not known is what kind of state PSN was actually in when the outage occurred. Sony says it shut the service down as a reaction to the “external intrusion,” but what if the hackers were able to seriously cripple the network by modifying or outright deleting whole chunks of PSN data?

That’s a real possibility, according to Eugene Lapidous, Chief Architect at AnchorFree, an internet security firm. “It’s hard to believe that it’d take [over a week] to restore all data and code from backups, but it could happen if PSN doesn’t have good safety/disaster recovery procedures,” he remarked to IndustryGamers.

He continued, “If service is disrupted due to permanent harm (and no effective backup), Sony may need to admit data loss: old data may never be restored. Time to restore the service becomes the time it takes to admit this fact.”

Sony has yet to address this, but if data was permanently lost, it could mean that critical PSN data has to be reprogrammed. PSN users’ Trophy collections, summarizing their many PS3 gaming achievements, might also be affected, although those appear to be storied locally on users’ hard drives. IndustryGamers asked Sony to comment on the issue, but we have not heard back as of this writing.

Even when PSN is put back online, there’s no guarantee that the same hacker(s) or another group won’t attack Sony again. This is especially easy for the hackers if the attacks are coming from altered PS3 units, as speculated. “If attacks continue and originate from PlayStations, [Sony] may have to distribute a firmware upgrade to stop them… In this worst-case scenario, full recovery may take a long time,” added Lapidous.