Microsoft has wisely slipped a new proviso into the latest Xbox Live terms of service licensing agreement to prevent the kind of class action lawsuit Sony faced after the huge PSN data-breach and site downtime caused by hackers.
It's amusing since most of these agreements already take away the users' rights. The courts almost always uphold these supposed contracts, virtually giving any company the right to sell a faulty, or even dangerous, product.
Here is a snippet from the latest Xbox Live terms of service (TOS) :
"...if you live in the United States, you and Microsoft agree that if you and Microsoft do not resolve any dispute by informal negotiation ... any effort to resolve the dispute will be conducted exclusively by binding arbitration ... you understand and acknowledge that by agreeing to binding arbitration, you are giving up the right to litigate (or participate in as a party or class member) all disputes in court before a judge or jury."
Note the "in the United States" proviso. Many foreign countries do not allow these sorts of contracts, but few make it easy to file a class action lawsuit so it is not as important.
If you're having trouble accessing the PlayStation Network this evening, you're not alone. PSN is undergoing scheduled maintenance until 10:00 PM PST:
During the maintenance, you will be unable to access the following services:
PlayStation Store on PS3 and PSP.
PlayStation Network Account Management.
PlayStation Network Account Registration.
In about five hours, everything should be back to normal!
Read More | PlayStation Blog
UPDATE: Microsoft responded to our request for comment with the following statement from a spokesperson, which indicates that the company regards the "xbox dump" user information as a minor phishing incident, not a major network breach:
"We do not have any evidence the Xbox Live service has been compromised. We take the security of our service seriously and work on an ongoing basis to improve it against evolving threats. However, we are aware that phishing attackers will occasionally post small lists of victims on public channels, and we will work directly with the impacted members to resolve any unauthorized changes to their accounts. As always, we highly recommend our members follow the Xbox Live Account Security guidance provided at www.xbox.com/security to protect your account."
Microsoft may be sweating out a possible rehash of Sony's PlayStation Network nightmare from earlier this year if an anonymous posting of dozens of purported Xbox Live Gamertags and passwords is what it claims to be.
We've seen an anonymous Pastebin.com data dump called "xbox dump" posted Monday that contains more than 90 supposed gamertags, most with associated email addresses and passwords.
Microsoft had yet to respond to a request for more information and it couldn't be confirmed Tuesday if the Pastebin document contained real Xbox Live user information. Even if a number of Xbox Live members had their private information compromised somehow, it obviously would remain to be seen if the "xbox dump" document was part of a larger security breach or just a one-off affair.
When Sony started restoring its PlayStation network this weekend, it promised a welcome-back consolation package for users who have been patiently waiting for its return since it went dark on April 20.
This afternoon, the company provided some details on what returning users will receive, including free games, movie rentals, and virtual items.
"We developed the program as an expression of our gratitude for your patience, support and continued loyalty during the service outage. From all of us at PlayStation, thank you and welcome back!" Patrick Seybold, senior director of corporate communications and social media, wrote in a blog post. "This package will be made available to all existing registered PlayStation Network and Qriocity users in North America (US and Canada), and will be made available shortly after we have fully restored the service."
What do you get? All PlayStation Network customers can choose two of five PS3 games: Dead Nation; inFAMOUS; LittleBigPlanet; Super Stardust HD; or Wipeout HD + Fury. PSP owners can select two of four games: LittleBigPlanet; ModNation Racers; Pursuit Force; or Killzone Liberation. All games will be available for 30 days after the store is restored and can be kept forever.
Sony Online Entertainment brought its PlayStation Network back online (after a major security breach took PSN down) in parts of Europe and the U.S. Saturday, but some 12 hours after the announcement many PSN customers were left wondering when it would be their turn.
At about 8:30 p.m. ET Saturday, Sony announced it would begin a "phased" return of PSN services to customers following a three-week outage caused by a hack of the network that forced the company to take it down. But a map of the U.S. that Sony is updating to reflect when its network goes live in individual states was left with numerous states without service in the Midwest, South and Northeast as of about 8 a.m. ET.
Several hours after the initial announcement, readers in Texas, Illinois and other states were complaining that PSN service had not been restored to their areas. Sony had warned that it would "take several hours to restore PSN throughout the entire country."
Meanwhile, PSN customers in Australia and the Caribbean wondered when their areas would go back online. Sony's Saturday announcement only referred to Europe and North America.
The company issued a further notice to PSN customers whose service had been turned on but who still weren't able to access the network:
Sony's devastating security breach is not only a public relations nightmare and now, an identity-theft worry for its customers, but it's also a reminder (yet again) of the vulnerability of computer networks.
Sony's PlayStation Network is comprised of networked servers housing massive amounts of data including valued customer data. The parts making up Sony's network are not much different than the parts making up any other business' network, except most business networks are on a smaller scale.
While Sony is not releasing a lot of detail as to how the breach was carried out or what security mechanisms it had in place that failed, there are some good lessons learned for any business no matter what the size about protecting network infrastructure and the data residing on those networks.
One of the key ways any company owner can protect themselves is to forget the notion of, "Why would anyone want to hack into my network?" Why? Because they can. Whether you run a business making chocolate candies or handle financials for thousands of clients, taking an offensive approach against hackers, network intruders, or script kiddies looking to make a name for themselves, is fundamental to protecting your business network.
It's important to know that in the technology world, there is no such thing as 100 percent secure. You can lessen the chances of network or data compromise though, with a few tips:
Sony confirmed Tuesday that hackers have managed to obtain personal information Sony stored within the PlayStation Network, possibly including credit cards. The service will be down, at most, another week.
In an update posted to the PlayStation Blog, Sony senior director of corporate communications and social media Patrick Seybold noted that the "malicious actions" has caused Sony to send a email to all of its customers.
That email will tell subscribers that Sony has turned off the PlayStation Network and Qriocity cloud-music service; engaged an outside security firm; and "taken steps to enhance security and strengthen our network infrastructure by re-building our system to provide you with greater protection of your personal information".
Sony said Thursday that its PlayStation Network, the online service that connects Sony's game consoles like the PlayStation 3, may be out for a "full day or two" due to an unexpected and unexplained outage.
Sony first confirmed the outage at 5:50 PM Wednesday night, when Patrick Seybold, the senior director of corporate communications and social media, reported that "We're aware certain functions of PlayStation Network are down," Seybold said. "We will report back here as soon as we can with more information."
At 9:34 AM on Thursday, Seybold added the latest information, which will be grim news for PlayStation players.
"While we are investigating the cause of the Network outage, we wanted to alert you that it may be a full day or two before we're able to get the service completely back up and running," Seybold added. "Thank you very much for your patience while we work to resolve this matter. Please stay tuned to this space for more details, and we'll update you again as soon as we can."
Basically, VUDU is a video marketplace that allows rentals and purchases of movies through streaming. This is something that the other services on the system don't do, as it is the only one that allows you to purchase movies without downloading them, but it's not a big leap either.
Rentals will cost about $2 for SD, while HD is a higher $4-6--those $6 rentals get you the HDX 1080p streaming content, which looks fantastic. Signing up with the VUDU service will earn you a $6 credit as well.
VUDU is only available in the US.
Read More | Kotaku
The long winded wait for the blue blur’s glorious return to form has been a grueling tale of teasers followed by long periods of nothingness. Finally, a light can be seen at the end of the tunnel, and for some that light is closer than it is for others.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 will be available first in the iTunes App Store beginning on October 7th. The next iteration will be available for download on the Wii Shop Channel October 11th, followed by the Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade versions hitting October 12th and 13th respectively.
Wii owners can expect to relinquish 1500 Wii Points; PSN users - $14.99; and XBLA - 1200 Microsoft Points. The iPhone price will be specified later this week.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 will be the first of an unspecified number of episodes. Game play is similar to the original Sega Genesis titles, namely the original Sonic the Hedgehog, with a few new twists and graphical enhancements thrown in for the modern age.
Read More | IGN