Let me say this first, because in the hullabaloo surrounding Sony’s almost criminally irresponsible handling of the ongoing PSN outage and compromised customer data, I feel like this point is quickly lost.
The bad guy (or at least the worst guy) in all this is the person or organization that hacked PSN.
I realize that Sony has managed in the aftermath to come off like the gawking bystander that hangs out watching as a horrific crime takes place, only thinking to bother calling the police long after the blood has dried on the sidewalk. In a way, it’s almost easier to be mad at that guy, and even to begin to blame him for the whole incident. I have to remind myself that the company didn't actually start this whole thing.
Sony is obviously not an intentional accessory to the actions that have crippled their system and exposed millions of customers to the worst kind of potential identity hazards, but like almost everyone else I am perplexed and aghast at their response. A response so bad that it has made virtually everyone madder at them than at the feckless waste of ejaculate who perpetrated the crime in the first place.
My initial reaction, however, was not anger. That has brewed very slowly, like a pitcher of tea steeping on the porch during a hot summer day. It wasn’t even surprise. It was something more like amused, cynical resignation.
This isn't just the Sony I had feared; it's the Sony I had expected.
On hearing that the company had not only allowed some anonymous hacker to waylay their online system for a what has already been a truly extraordinary period of time, but also failed to disclose or even recognize that customer data had been compromised until nearly a week had passed, I felt a lot like I do when I read stories about Donald Trump. That is to say vaguely annoyed and at the same absolutely amazed at the magnitude of idiocy involved.
Watching Sony muddle their way through this latest blemish on their already not-particularly-good name, I feel like I might actually be watching a Monty Python skit on how not to react. It's like responding to getting slapped in the face by just slapping yourself even harder. I keep expecting one of the talking heads from Sony to suddenly start doing funny walks or be stomped on by a giant cartoon foot. If it weren't so painfully serious, it would be comical.
From here on out, however, my confidence in PSN and the parent company, not only as someone who watches the industry but as a past Sony consumer, feels irretrievably ruined. Without measuring Sony up artificially against other consoles—looked at alone in the harsh, cold spotlight—there’s no good reason I can imagine to ever again trust them with my personal information. I'd sooner give my credit card number to a Nigerian prince.
What I really hope, though, is that other holders of my information are paying close, damn attention. Frankly, it’s easy enough for me to throw the Sony out with the bathwater, I don’t have a lot of collateral at stake in our relationship. In the end, I still feel happy enough having a decent Blu-Ray player and a system that I may occasionally boot up to play some rented exclusive. It would be a lot harder to walk away if this were Microsoft or Steam instead, and I feel for the people who would like to extract themselves from Sony’s grip but who have invested countless dollars into the PS3 as their gateway into gaming and social spheres.
I sincerely hope that there are a lot of much smarter people kicking around making sure that the same sorts of vulnerabilities aren’t manifest in the systems I depend upon. I realize no system, certainly not those as complex as these gaming portals, can ever be completely failsafe. So what matters most is how prepared a company is to react to a crisis, and I can’t help but feel like Sony just got their butt kicked in the parking lot of a bar and has decided to react by bleeding on the ground for a while.
It’s just the first in a flurry of street brawls I suspect the company will likely endure as the first rounds of litigation begin to take shape and the media begins to have its field day. But, honestly, I’ll be watching with only a casual passing interest, because I’ll no longer have a dog in that fight. After all, I’m now only a former Sony customer.