Sony PlayStation Network Security Breach

77 Million Users Exposed

Sony PlayStation Network Security Breach

I’m not a giant gamer, but I know people who love their PlayStation 3’s and play regularly against people over the Sony PlayStation Network.  Last week the PlayStation network unexpectedly went down, and is still down.  Rumours started flowing that Sony had pulled the plug due to security issues, and that the data of all of its members has been compromised.

Yesterday an official statement was issued to PlayStation Network users by Patrick Seybold,  Sr. Director, Corporate Communications & Social Media for Sony that said :

"We have discovered that between April 17 and April 19, 2011, certain PlayStation Network and Qriocity service user account information was compromised in connection with an illegal and unauthorized intrusion into our network."

That’s why the story of the hack to the PlayStation Network and Qriocity is so scary. And it gets worse …

"Although we are still investigating the details of this incident, we believe that an unauthorized person has obtained the following information that you provided: name, address (city, state, zip), country, email address, birthdate, PlayStation Network/Qriocity password and login, and handle/PSN online ID. It is also possible that your profile data, including purchase history and billing address (city, state, zip), and your PlayStation Network/Qriocity password security answers may have been obtained. If you have authorized a sub-account for your dependent, the same data with respect to your dependent may have been obtained. While there is no evidence at this time that credit card data was taken, we cannot rule out the possibility. If you have provided your credit card data through PlayStation Network or Qriocity, out of an abundance of caution we are advising you that your credit card number (excluding security code) and expiration date may have been obtained."

Um  yeah.  So, a company that has files of reportedly 77 million gamers has been hacked into, and the gamer information potentially stolen. This includes grownups and adolescents.

I know some of you will say I’m overreacting, and “what are the chances of my account being one out of the 75 million stolen, that actually gets comprimised.” I can tell you this – there’s nothing like seeing a hotel charge from Europe show up on your bill and having to prove to the bank that you were still sitting in Chilliwack at the time the charge occurred (sense the sarcasm here?) If you haven’t already been a target of identity theft it sucks – it’s time consuming and difficult to repair. 

So here’s what you can do if you are a concerned PSN member – and really, you can follow these tips if you’re concerned about your data being stolen at any point:

1)    If you’re Canadian, and not travelling outside of Canada, call your bank and tell them you want to put a hold on your credit card for all transactions outside of Canada. You can always call them before you travel to have this re-instated;
2)    Watch your credit card statements like a hawk;
3)    Start checking your credit reports. Equifax Canada and Trans Union  are the widely used companies in Canada. They both offer online and mail credit reports;
4)    Remember that Sony will NEVER contact you asking for your credit card, Social Insurance numbers etc. if someone contacts you by email for this info do NOT give it to them.

This will be an interesting to see how this story plays out (har har). Given the volume of data, and the size of the breach there are rumblings online that this could be in the top 5 web security breaches of all time.  This time it was Sony, but next time it could be any of your favourite online stores. 

This incident will continue to make news (as it should) and hopefully encourage more stringent security rules for those that are guardians all of our personal data. In the mean time, as Sony says in their own statement:  “To protect against possible identity theft or other financial loss, we encourage you to remain vigilant, to review your account statements and to monitor your credit reports.”

Online gaming just got a whole heck of a lot more grown up didn’t it


BlackBerry Playbook Review

Should You have Playbook Envy?

BlackBerry Playbook Review

I have BlackBerry Playbook envy. There I said it.

A bunch of people I know were at the Playbook launch party in Toronto last night, and they were bragging about how awesome it was, so I had to go to Staples to try one out.

I’ve wanted to get my hands a BlackBerry Playbook since they were announced – but I was afraid to.  You see, I’m in serious love with my Crackberry and everything about it. The portability, the OS, the fact that it’s made by a Canadian company (Research in Motion) all make me happy, and the thought of having anything negative to say about my  addiction makes me sad.  

Given that the press has been about 50/50 on if  the Playbook will meet expectations of consumers and business, and most of the tech reviews out there focus on the bugs in the OS and the fact that it can’t do email, I nervously approached the counter at our local Staples store for a demo.  I found myself whispering “Please don’t have anything wrong with you! I really want to love you” while the sales guy passed me a demo unit. (He may have heard my whisper and thought I was hitting on him, he winked when he passed me the box, but I digress.)

I grabbed the Playbook and was instantly struck by how light it felt, and how it felt in my hand. It was actually comfortable. I turned it in all directions and found that it was comfortable each way. 

I can imagine that the playbook would be awesome for the gym, I can see myself putting it on the stand on the treadmill, and being able to read or watch a movie. I folded the cover over and put it in my purse, and it fit nicely.  After the sales guy accused me of trying to steal the thing I took it out and started playing with the OS.

Here’s the surprising thing – the operating system by QNX is good. Like really good.  It allows you to do things like swipe in different directions to trigger things like menus, pop apps open full screen or minimize them, or move things to the foreground or background. It all sounds very complicated, but trust me it’s really not.  It’s fast, and responsive and the security on it is fantastic. Kudos to RIM for jumping in to the tablet game with QNX when they did, before someone else snapped them up. While I was swiping through menus and apps, the sales guy came over to ask me if I needed anything, and I was so into the OS I didn’t hear him. True story.

I started snapping pictures with it, and the front and back cameras both worked really well! They seem to have similar quality of output to the iPad2 (but I was comparing in a store with fluorescent lighting so I can’t be sure on that.)

There is still some room for improvement (Obviously I would have loved to be able to get my email on it out of the box, but there is the option to do a tether via Bluetooth to your BlackBerry, which I guess is the next best thing), and I'm sure we'll see OS updates - and we know the next campaign will be 'Playbook2 : Now with Email!', but in my opinion it's a solid entry into the mainly business, but also consumer tablet markets.

If you’re used to the BlackBerry lifestyle I say give the Playbook a chance! As for me?  I just might be spending my tax refund on one next week.  What can I say? If it's good enough for JLo, it's good enough for me. 

Do you have one yet? What do you like or dislike about it?


QR Codes

What is a QR Code And How Do We Use Them

QR Codes

I’ve been getting a few questions lately about the strange little squares popping up on the corners of the signs for the federal elections.

The strange little squares that once appeared only on the 14th page of your newspaper are now appearing seemingly everywhere. You’ve seen them at the grocery store, on the incoming store flyers, and now even the politicians are jumping on board the ‘new’ technology.

These strange little squares are called ‘QR’ codes.

QR stands for ‘Quick Response’ and these codes, once scanned, can contain text, a phone number, or a URL link.  These codes have been used in Japan for a while - we’re just getting up to speed using them here now - and you can imagine the benefits to companies and people who choose to use them. 

The codes are most often linked to websites that contain information about a product or person, but sometimes you can scan through while in the grocery store and get some really good ‘secret’ coupons for products.

Most smart phones now have built in apps that are capable of reading the codes (if yours doesn’t you can easily browse through your app store and find dozens of free QR code readers). All you have to do with the QR reader app is aim at the code, wait for it to recognize the code, and it will launch your mobile browser or phone depending on what it has been programmed to do.  (Please beware however – I once scanned one from the classifieds and found out things I never needed/wanted to know about … *shudder*  …. Well, let’s leave it at that.)

Why not try it out here, download a QR reader and see if you can scan the code below.

The future of QR codes?

You will probably soon see them on all products – you’ll be able to scan them from your smart phone while directly in store and bring up the manufacturers website where they’ll have links to nutritional information, coupons and the like.

You will probably also see them on posters for missing children (imagine how powerful that would be, you scan the code and it takes you to a website that shows how the child would look today!)

You will probably see it on my business card at Blissdom this year – you never know, I might just embed the code with a link to surprise (hint hint).

I’m not sure I’m going to be jumping out of my car to scan a QR code on an election sign anytime soon, but I do applaud the use of emerging technology, and look forward to seeing where this takes us.

Have you played with QR codes? Where are some interesting places you’ve seen them used?