Family Safety

The PSN Hack – Lessons For All

By on May 09, 2011

Cyber son has been dropping big hints over the years on how he would really appreciate a PlayStation. At one time, he expostulates on the merits of the PSP, vis-à-vis the Nintendo DS; at others, he moons over the latest games his friends are playing these days on their Xbox Live. Fortunately, he has never been one to throw tantrums or demand obsessively for what catches his fancy. But boys will be boys when it comes to gadgets, will they not?? 🙂

I had just started yielding to the subtle pressure and researching the best available options when all hell broke loose on the Sony PSN world, as the firm finally conceded that the shutdown of the PlayStation Network was to prevent external intrusion. It said that the network has been hacked and possibly a significant amount of personal data has been accessed by “malicious” forces.


Sony PlayStation Network revealed this week that a hacker stole the names, birth dates, and potentially the credit card numbers of 77 million users who play their games online. You may not think of online games as being vulnerable, but the sad truth is that everything is vulnerable. If you are a PlayStation Network user, monitor your credit card statements and credit reports, just to be sure.

Interestingly, the hackers failed to access the three-digit credit card security code, and this might just be the saving factor for it is now reported that the hackers are offering the details of details of 2.2 million credit cards for sale.

But I refuse to believe that online purchase mechanism’s cannot be further buffered with security measures on the purchaser’s front. So I went hunting for tips on how to do this. I came across some great “prevention is better than cure” type material on CNET. I am summarizing these here:

–Use only credit cards: It is worth noting that most analysts consider a hacked e-mail address and other lost details more dangerous than the loss of a credit card number, as the damages in the latter case is limited. However, the limit does not apply to ATM/debit cards. So use only credit cards for making online purchases

–Use temporary e-mail ids: Use throwaway e-mail addresses, alter egos: E-mail addresses are golden to malicious hackers because they offer nearly unfettered access to your attention. Even cautious people can sometimes be tricked by an authentic-looking message from what appears to be a trusted source. And once a hacker has induced you to click a bogus link, your machine and the information it holds belongs to the

–Create new Gmail account: It is also suggested that you use an account solely for signing up for Web services and then redirect mails from that account to your existing one. You can do so easily from the mail settings option in your new/temporary account. You have to click the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab, and select “Forward a copy if incoming mail to” option. Then provide the account address where the mails have to be redirected

The information here is not for your kids, it is for you, the parents. I would advise against handing a credit card to the child to carry out online transactions. Why not make it an “earn-a-game” project. Let the children be responsible for earning the right to buy new games and you for safe online transactions. This could be the first reference point for teaching the value of money and the hard work required to earn it. Also, do not share credit card details with children, who might be tempted to use them to make telephonic purchases.

Finally, use the blessed respite from the continuous war zone the children are usually in while playing online games to take them out for a picnic, enjoy the lovely summer day and play some fun, physical games. I promise you, the day will remain etched in your memory.