We've covered the legal case of George Hotz, the Playstation 3 modder, several times in the past year. Hotz recently reached a settlement with Sony and announced he was going on vacation. "It was never my intention to cause any users trouble or to make piracy easier," said Hotz in an interview a few weeks ago." I'm happy to have the litigation behind me.* A few days later, Hotz announced he was joining a Sony boycott:
"As of 4/11/11, I am joining the SONY boycott," he wrote on his blog. "I will never purchase another SONY product. I encourage you to do the same. And if you bought something SONY recently, return it."
Mild stuff, all things considered, which is why rumors that Hotz
is somehow involved in the hack against the PSN make so little sense. GeoHotz got off lightly, more lightly than we honestly expected. Even if Sony hadn't thought it could win the case against him, it could've tied him up in court for years. We've seen other organizations like the RIAA do this; it's rarely pretty. Charging Sony's virtual stronghold with the ink scarcely dry on his first settlement would be begging Sony to hammer him.
There's also the matter of cost. With the PS3, GeoHotz and Fail0verflow were able to claim, with at least a veneer of plausibility, that they cared about restoring OtherOS functionality, not about enabling game piracy. Absent evidence to the contrary, it would've been more difficult to tag them as guilty. The link between their work and Sony's income would've also been tangled.
Not so in this case. With the PSN network down
, virtually every aspect of PS3 gaming and the oft-quoted, ill-defined PS3 experience is crippled. Sony, therefore, could claim direct damages and loss of revenue. These amounts and charges will increase further if Sony is forced to admit that credit card data was compromised and the remaining encryption broken. That spells very deep trouble for whoever did this should the Japanese electronics company ever find them.
Asked if he was part of the break-in, Hotz said:
I'm not crazy, and would prefer to not have the FBI knocking on my door. Running homebrew and exploring security on your devices is cool, hacking into someone else's server and stealing databases of user info is not cool. You make the hacking community look bad, even if it is aimed at do***es like Sony.
Hotz did say that he believes the problem here was caused by executives who declared war on hackers, but then hired lawyers instead of security researchers to stop it. Regardless of the root cause, Sony has announced that it intends to begin bringing the PSN back online next week. there's no word yet on how long it'll take to restore the network to full functionality or what security fixes (if any), will be installed to prevent this from happening again.