Sony brings PlayStation Network back online

After just over three weeks of downtime resulting from the hacker attack on its online services, Sony started the process of turning the PlayStation Network back online late Saturday afternoon. In a video message, Sony president Kaz Hirai explained that the restoration process will take place in phases, the first of which is now underway around the world. Here's what will be coming back online:

  • Sign in for PlayStation Network and Qriocity services

  • Online gameplay across PS3 and PSP

  • Friends list

  • Chat functionality

  • Trophy comparison

  • PlayStation Home

  • Access to third party services such as Netflix

  • Music Unlimited for current subscribers

The PlayStation Store and purchasing in Qriocity were not included in this phase. They will return as soon as possible.

All PS3 users must install new system software, version 3.61, which is available now for download over the Internet. This update requires users to then update their passwords. As an added precaution, password update will only be possible on a PS3 that was used to activate your PSN account. If no content has ever been downloaded to your PS3, then an email will be sent to the address you signed up with that will contain a link to complete the password change process.

Hirai apologized profusely for the breach in security and resulting prolonged outage for the services. He said that the company is committed to the protection of consumer data and restoring lost faith. To that end he outlined some of the security upgrades made to the PlayStation Network during the rebuilding process:

  • Advanced security technology

  • Increased levels of encryption

  • Additional firewalls

  • An early warning detection system looking for any signal of an attack on the system

Though the process has officially begun, it's going to take a while to bring the system back online. To help update users on its progress, Sony has posted a map on the PlayStation blog that will illuminate areas as service comes back up there.