Over the past weekend, Sony’s PlayStation Network was hacked and taken offline by a group of hackers identified as Lizard Squad. The PlayStation Network is used by 53 million gamers around the world to play games with other people in a virtual environment. The PlayStation Network was brought down by a simple, but still effective tactic called a distributed denial of service attack (DDOS) by which hackers utilize a botnet to overwhelm and clog the network with artificially high traffic. A botnet, as you may remember is brought about when hackers infiltrate the computers of unwary users and take over those computers, using them to send malware, spam or other harmful material. Often the people whose computers are part of this botnet of what is often called zombie computers are not even aware that their computers are being used for these purposes. In this case, all that Sony suffered was a minor embarrassment, however in 2011 the PlayStation Network was hacked and the personal information including credit card information of 77 million people was stolen.
Although this particular hacking of Sony did not result in the personal information of any users of the Sony PlayStation Network being compromised, the security of Sony and the other online gaming network companies remains vulnerable. It is for this reason that you should limit, as much as possible the personal information that you provide these companies to protect yourself in the event of a data breach. Also, do not leave your credit card number on file with any company as a convenience. Provide the number anew each time you use it online at any company so that it is not stored by the company and vulnerable to a data breach. Also, as I constantly remind you, never use your debit card for any retail purchases. Limit its use to ATMs.