The Easter weekend was marked by a trio of web outages, one of which was accompanied by warnings from Sony that its PlayStation network may have been hacked and users’ personal details compromised.
The chaos began with Amazon's north Virginia server cloud site, which affected sites ranging from Zynga, Twitter, Reddit Foursquare and Quor, to BigDoor. The effects varied, but some customers were unable to access data and the outage resulted in many sites being shut down.
Pakistan also suffered massive power cuts just as the country’s hot season began.
But these episodes were trumped by the closure of Sony's PlayStation network just before the holiday, when up to 70m users might have looked forward to a weekend of online gaming. Sony Computer Entertainment Europe initially informed Electronic Theatre that it would use down-time to implement security to the online gaming service.
But by Monday 26 April, the Update on Play Station Network told a different story: “We have discovered that between April 17 and April 19, 2011, certain PlayStation Network and Qriocity service user account information was compromised in connection with an illegal and unauthorized intrusion into our network.
“In response to this intrusion, we have: temporarily turned off PlayStation Network and Qriocity services; engaged an outside, recognised security firm to conduct a full and complete investigation into what happened; 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.”
The Sony hackers, suggested Sophos expert Graham Cluley on his Naked Security blog, may have accessed names, addresses, emails, date of birth, password and login, handle/PSN and online IDs of the PlayStation network’s 70m users. Sony said it hoped to have the network back up and running within a week.
Perhaps due to the dearth of non-Wedding stories, the incidents received plenty of news coverage and prompted calls from the Daily Mail about the threat posed to civilization by Cloud computing.
PublicTechnology.net editor Stuart Lauchlan responded: “The primary lesson that needs to be learned is that Cloud Computing isn't some magic pill you can buy to make your ICT probems disappear overnight… if you just sign up to a Cloud services provider and then go off to do something more interesting (like cutting back on your ICT staff) then you're asking for trouble.”