PSN vs. DDoS Attack: Who’s to Blame?

Greetings fellow readers! Do you play online on the PlayStation Network? If so, you may have noticed you were not able to access the network. Earlier today, Sony clarified that the unavailability of the network was caused by a DDoS attack.

What is a DDoS attack?

  • A DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack is “when multiple compromised systems — which are usually infected with a Trojan — are used to target a single system”. As a result of the possible thousands of systems attacking the PlayStation Network, it creates artificial traffic.
  • Although normally traffic for any service is a positive outcome, the sudden influx of systems can render the service unusable. Think of it like this: normally, a highway is able to handle the thousands of cars that drive on its roads. However, what happens when instead of the usual 5,000 cars that drive on it, 1 million more cars show up? The highway would become unusable- cars wouldn’t be able to move and progress would not be made.


  • What’s worse is that since a DDoS attack involves numerous attackers, it makes the victim (in this case, PSN) unable to block IP addresses.
  • To add insult to injury, the victim is unable to distinguish between artificial traffic and legitimate traffic by legitimate users. (To explain this predicament, here’s an example many of us can relate to: You’re in the middle of Math class and a couple of kids decide to throw paper airplanes at the teacher. The teacher turns around and asks who threw the airplanes. No one responds. Because the teacher doesn’t know who threw the airplanes, she decides to punish the entire class by giving everyone lunch detention. This means that both the delinquents and the “good” kids have to suffer the same consequence.) As a result, the attackers are able to claim victory, affecting both the service and the consumers.

As of August 24, 2014, Sony posted on the PlayStation Blog:

“Like other major networks around the world, the PlayStation Network and Sony Entertainment Network have been impacted by an attempt to overwhelm our network with artificially high traffic.

Although this has impacted your ability to access our network and enjoy our services, no personal information has been accessed.

We will continue to work towards fixing this issue and hope to have our services up and running as soon as possible.

We regret any inconvenience this may have caused.”

The key phrase here is no personal information has been accessed”.

If you weren’t aware, PSN was hacked in 2011 by malicious users. As a result of the hacking, no one was able to access the network for 24 days. The event, infamously known as the “PSN Outage”, left the personal information of over 77 million users in the hands of hackers. Analysts speculate this attack costed Sony anywhere from $20 million to $24 billion. Moreover, Sony’s reputation was severely harmed, causing users to gain a distrust toward the company.


While the event in 2011 compromised users’ data. this current attack will NOT steal your data. It’s important to note this to avoid spreading false news and negativity.

Although this attack will only delay the use of PSN, it got people asking themselves: “Is PSN really that safe?” In my opinion, the answer is: PSN has really, really bad luck.

PSN is as safe as Xbox Live or any other gaming/non-gaming service. The fate of these services depends on the users. This DDoS attack could have happened to any other network, as clarified by Sony’s quote above. PSN just happened to be chosen by malicious users. On the other hand, it’s no coincidence that PSN has been attacked more times by hackers than its competitor, Xbox Live. But what can Sony really do about this? Like every other company in the world, they have no control over people who decide to hack into their systems.

If anyone is to blame, it should be us, the consumers.

What do you think of this situation? Have you been affected by this attack? Who is at fault here? Comment below to share your opinions!




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