How to protect yourself from another PSN attack

By Mike on 9:08 pm

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Sony allegedly didn't ensure your data was secure. Moreover, they acted slowly in alerting customers when the Playstation Network was hacked. The ball was dropped in this case.

If we've learned anything from this, it's that your data is never safe. No business can be trusted to keep it in good hands. It's not for lack of trying. Hackers are just becoming more sophisticated. Any computer connected to the internet is at risk, even large data centre servers. It's just a fact of life in our online world.

That's not to say there aren't steps you can take to keep your identity secured. At least as secure as humanly possible. A little common sense goes a long way. Now that PSN is back on line, here's some easy tips to help protect you from a future attack.

Use prepaid credit cards and gift cards online
Thieves can't get access to your credit and debit card numbers if you don't use them. Cash is king, but obviously you can't use it online. That's where prepaid cards come in handy. For example, PSN, Xbox Live, and iTunes have gift cards you can use with their respective services. The cards have a set value and can be bought at most convenience stores. They work like any other gift card.

Prepaid credit cards are offered by companies like Visa and can be used almost anywhere. They're not credit cards exactly. They can't be used for pre-authorized payments. They do, however, work like a more versatile gift card. You can put as much or as little as you want on them, and you can top them up too.

If the numbers of either of these get stolen, you're only out the value of the card. Once that's gone, thieves can't access more funds. Think of it as insurance. Better to pay a smaller deductible than the full value of your car if it gets stolen.

Set up a spam email account
Never use your personal email to sign up for services. That's where the deluge of spam usually comes from. It's also another piece, all be it small, in the identity theft puzzle. Leaked emails can be used for all sorts of nefarious things. Setting up a separate email account keeps thieves and spam out of your personal inbox. With so many free services out there today, there's no reason not to.

Limit the personal information you broadcast

Privacy policies mean squat if someone breaks into a data centre's server. Try to limit the amount of personal information you put online. Facebook is a thief's dream. They can get your address, phone numbers, birth date, email addresses, where you work and go to school, who your friends and significant other are, and even where you've been recently. If the service doesn't require that information, don't post it. Keep as little information online as possible. You wouldn't go walking down the street shouting that stuff, so why do it on the internet.

Trust nobody online
The internet is a wrenched hive of scum and villainy. If you don't know the person in real life, don't trust them. Of course the vast majority of people aren't criminals, but you never know who is. Don't wall yourself off, but don't go spreading too much information either.

Trust your instincts
If something seems fishy, it probably is.

PS3 firmware update prepares you for restored PSN

By Mike on 8:41 pm

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What a month it's been for Sony. They've been scrambling to get PSN back up and running, before gamers loose their patience. A firmware update for PS3 has just been launched that will address some security issues. So what does this update do exactly? Crap all, at least until PSN is restored. Once they get it up and running, this mandatory update forces you to change your account password. It's sort of like locking the vault after the bank's been robbed, but I guess it's better than nothing. You can download it now to get yourself ready to go back online. You don't need to log into PSN to grab it. Full press release at the bottom.

There's a lot of talk about compensation for the downtime. US gamers will be getting a month of free Playstation Plus, and complementary identity theft protection. Europeans will get two free PSN games of their choosing. No word on whether other territories will be included.

PS3 System Software Update - Playstation Blog
Posted by Eric Lempel // VP, Sony Network Entertainment

We have been working on a new PS3 system software update that requires all PSN users to change their password once PlayStation Network is restored. The update (v3.61) is mandatory and is available now.

If using a PS3, your password can only be changed on your own PS3 (or a PS3 on which your PSN account was activated), as an added layer of security. If you have never downloaded any content using your account on the system, an email will be sent to the registered sign-in ID (email address) associated with your account when you first attempt to sign-in to PSN. This e-mail will contain a link that will enable you to change your password. In this email, click on the link and follow the instructions to change your password. Once you have changed your password you can sign-in to your account using your new password.

We strongly recommend that all PSN account holders with PS3s update their systems to prepare for when PlayStation Network is back online. The release of this update is a critical step as we work to make PlayStation Network significantly more secure. Thank you for your continued support and patience.