6 Tips on How to Secure Your PlayStation Account & ConsoleApril 29, 2019
Did you think that online security is only related to laptops, computers, and smartphones? If so, we’re here to tell you that it doesn’t; every device that has access to the Internet is vulnerable to different kinds of attacks.
So is the PlayStation console - and to be clear, your online security regarding the whole PlayStation package refers to two main things which we’ll discuss in this article.
I have to say that that whole PlayStation history dates back to the late 80s - hence, maybe our bigger brothers and sisters or even our parents might actually know about the success Nintendo had back then.
Why am I mentioning Nintendo? Because this company was one of the pioneers in the video gaming industry, not to mention one of the leaders. And they started as a card company in 1889, in Japan (they created paying cards which you could use for a number of card games).
Until the 1960s there’s a big period of time - more than 30 years. So they had time to experiment with a lot of areas: vacuum cleaners, taxi company, food company, a hotel chain and many more, all under the umbrella of Nintendo. The only thing that survived until 1965 were the toys, because they actually had a bit more experience in this area (considering the playing cards).
But right in that year, the market of playing cards got up to the highest level - the market was saturated, and the price of the playing cards dropped dramatically. The only thing that still kept the company going was the toys.
Still, as toys had a quite short lifespan, they had to continuously come up with new and new toys. The advantage of a sharp mind, a production factory, and a handyman, helped Yamauchi (the owner) to think of a blockbuster toy: the Ultra Hand. That handyman was Gunpei Yokoi who had experience in electrical engineering, so they started creating electrical toys.
Over the course of 6 years, Nintendo invented a lot of toys, but it was in 1972 when the whole gaming console started to emerge. They first created the Magnavox Odyssey, and after 5 years they released the Color TV Game 6, along with various games (Donkey Kong and Radar Scope).
It was definitely not like in these days when every year there’s something new coming out. Technology is moving at a pace that’s clearly way faster than we can cope with, but we still love new things and adopt them pretty quickly.
Between 1972 and now, there are 40 years; knowing today’s pace, 40 years from now will look extremely different. Not that 40 years ago didn’t, but things moved a bit slower. Nintendo invented and released about 7 game consoles, with each one being an innovator.
After the Color TV Game 6, there was the Nintendo Watch and the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1980 till 1989. The next version of NES was Super NES when Nintendo worked with Sony - they provided the SNC sound chip.
So in 1989, Nintendo wanted to work with Sony for a new console which had a CD-ROM attachment, but for some reasons, they left the Sony partnership and went with Philips. In the same year, The Game Boy appeared. After this, Nintendo continued to innovate, and they created Wii, which had competitors only after 2010.
As we’ve reached the point where the idea of the PlayStation started, let’s move on to Sony. The whole dispute between Nintendo and Sony was based on the conditions of the contract - Nintendo had to give up a big amount of control and licensing to Sony, condition with which they weren’t extremely happy. Between 1989 and 1991 - when Sony launched the console at the Consumer Electronics Show, Nintendo actually started working with Philips.
It was a great surprise for the customers and even for Sony to see right at the Show that Nintendo was working with Philips. In those 2 years, about 300 prototypes of the console were produced. They tried to overcome their differences, and in 1992 they almost did. Nintendo and Sony got to a point where Sony would create the SNES compatible hardware, without Nintendo having to give up to its control.
Still, as broken relationship can’t be fixed completely, after 1992, the two companies decided to separate. Of course, there were a lot of discussions even internally, between heads of Sony. They actually created a separate company - Sony Computer Entertainment and in 1994 there it was: the first PlayStation console. Right in time for the new generation - The Millennials.
The PS One was next, and it appeared in 2000, along with PlayStation 2. 2004 was the year when the PlayStation 2 Slimline appeared, and after 2 years there was the PlayStation 3. Following the path of its predecessor, in 2009 appeared the PlayStation 3 Slimline and in 2012 there was the Super Slimline.
The PlayStation 4 appeared in 2013, 3 years before the PlayStation 4 Slimline and the PlayStation 4 Pro.
Don’t even think that these were the only devices Sony created since 1994. There were also the “pocket-size” versions, like the PocketStation, PlayStation Portable, PSP 2000 and PSP 3000, and the PlayStation Vita. There were accompanied by PSX (a DVR combined with a PlayStation 2), TV sets, the Android-based smartphone called Xperia Play, tablets, PlayStation TV and PlayStation VR.
In the span of 15 years, they created dozens of products, compared to what happened before the 90s. Fast technology, just as I told you.
Right when the PlayStation 3 was released, the PlayStation Network was launched. This network still offers a way of purchasing and playing video games, movies and music right on the console.
As a user, you’d have to give your name and email address, along with credit card information in case you’re purchasing anything. So it’s just like any other network - a target for hackers.
Since it’s launched and until 2011, the PlayStation Network was proudly having 77 million users. Little did Sony know that the whole network will be hacked and all of those accounts will be vulnerable for information stealing.
This situation happened in 2011, when an unauthorized person had access to all of the accounts, with all of their information. That means people's names, addresses, email address, birthdates, usernames, passwords, logins, security questions and more.
Sony suspended the network as soon as they realized they got hacked, but this security breach was the biggest until then.
They were sued, but imagine the consequences if this were to happen with the GDPR Regulation in place.
Sony hired a security firm to manage the situation, while they announced every user through email, notifications and however they could; they told the users they should be aware of phone scams, and that they should closely monitor their bank account for any suspicious transaction.
Because it was the biggest security breach, it was talked about everywhere. They were trying to fix the situation, but now everyone knew they were vulnerable. Thus other hackers started to hack everything that had the name Sony.
They were (and still are) present globally, so they reach an international crowd. They may not follow the same security rules, so every server from every country was exposed. The whole company has been hit multiple times, even though, according to some experts, some attacks were pretty basic and they could’ve been avoided.
Over the years, it was a constant battle and a situation full of users’ questions: “why doesn’t Sony add the two-factor authentication?”, “will PlayStation Network get hacked again?”, “Am I safe a user of PS Network?”. Not to mention that Sny got hacked all over the branches: Sony Entertainment, Sony Pictures etc.
The sad part is that in 2018, the PlayStation’s Twitter account was hacked. IT was just like someone was taking control over your social media account, and posting a lot of things like “I am X, I’ve taken control over Y’s account”, “I have data, please do that and that”. It resembled a puerile situation.
The hackers claimed that they’ve breached the network and that they had access to a lot of information (amount speaking). Sony did take the control back quickly and deleted those tweets.
Apparently, the company that did that was a security group; they didn’t intend on revealing the information (they had access to names, emails, passwords etc.), they just wanted to prove Sony that they weren’t safe. The group was going to give the data back to Sony.
With all these hacks and breaches, how can you secure your whole PlayStation experience?
Because it’s not only about the PlayStation network account, it’s also about browsing the Internet or even watching Netflix - both activities can be done using a PlayStation console.
I would categorize the securing activity into three main categories:
- Responsible behavior regarding the PlayStation experience;
- PlayStation Network Account security;
- PS4 Console Privacy and Security.
The PlayStation evolved into something that can be used not only for playing games but also for watching TV series or browsing the Internet. You can even chat with your friends.
Reading the Online Security Tips article, you’ll manage to apply some of those tips in your way of using the PlayStation. You’ll quickly realize why I am emphasizing on this responsible behavior.
Don’t browse on suspicious websites
Yes, your PlayStation console gives you the “power” of browsing the Internet, but that doesn’t mean it’s as safe a computer. There’s no antivirus, no firewall.
You might be tempted to navigate on particular websites because no one will quickly think to check your browsing history there. But keep this activity away, as you can be exposed to a number of threats.
The same applies for suspicious ads - don’t click them! As a matter of fact, don’t click on any ad. Stay on the path of browsing the Internet only for information that you know you’ll find in a safe place.
Stay away from phishing
I talked about phishing in the Fake News and Online Security article.
“people are fooled by websites that resemble the original ones. These websites are created to fraudulently obtain credit card data or other personal and sensitive information.”
People are discussing on forums that they’ve received various links through email telling them to redeem games or packs. Don’t click on any of them, especially if they are asking for your password.
It is true that Sony, as any other company, might send you some discount codes through newsletters. Still, if you think that something is even a tiny bit suspicious, don’t click through.
You might lose the (slight) chance of winning a game, but it will be nothing compared to losing your whole account (which involves not only personal information but also purchased games and so).
What happens if you lose your PS Network account?
According to Kotaku.com, losing your PS Network account will send you into a quite difficult situation.
If your account gets hacked and the hacker uses your account on his PS console, you’d have to wait for 6 months to get it back - remote deactivate the account that is being used on the hacker’s console.
This is because of the deactivation policy of the company.
“How do I deactivate a device if I do not have access to it?
_If you find that you cannot sign out of a temporary activation or manually deactivate a PlayStation system, you can perform a remote deactivation of all PlayStation devices. This action can only be performed once every six months and should be considered as a last step. “ - source PlayStation Help
This is a problem, but there’s also another one, involving your credit card data. If the hacker starts to fraudulently use your credit card information, you can be refunded only $150 (this is the maximum amount a PS Network wallet can hold).
If he was to dispute the charges with his bank, his account would be banned. The bigger situation was that Sony couldn’t unban his account, meaning that he could’ve lost all of his purchases and trophies.
Luckily for him, the whole situation blew up into a PR situation, and thus the whole thing was resolved.
To be honest, I’m not sure if this can still happen - regarding the customer service part, not the hacking part which clearly can happen again.
It can happen you while you play - if you’re lucky, actually. One user tells his story that while playing, he got logged out with the message that he logged into another PS4. He managed to quickly act: changed his email, password and deleted his payment method. He also activated the Two-Factor Authentication. He admits that he had some problems authorizing his PS4 console as primary.
Now there you have it: two-factor authentication can be the key to your PlayStation Network account securing.
For a number of years, Sony didn’t implement this way of signing in to the PlayStation Network. They didn’t have it in 2015, which was definitely a year when all the major companies had this. They should’ve considered the past experiences with the breaches, but they didn’t.
Either way, now that they have it, you must use it. As it shows from the example above, the users that got hacked could’ve avoided this if he was using the two-factor authentication. It’s an extra layer of security, a much-needed one.
Moreover, you should use a strong password, not just a basic one. If you want to be extra cautious, you can start changing your password on a regular basis.
Don’t worry about memorizing all of the new passwords or about not being able to create strong ones each time. You can manage your passwords with a Password Manager.
As I’ve mentioned, you can use your console to stream videos, browse the Internet and of course, play online games and share gaming content across the globe.
Now what if you’re trying to play a game that’s not available in your area?
Or what if you’re trying to watch a movie that’s only on Netflix or Amazon US (or any other movie platform)?
And did you experience DDoS attacks and don’t want them anymore?
The answer to all of these and even more, is using a VPN. There are a number of reasons why VPN’s can be used for gaming.
Now the slight problem is that the PlayStation console doesn’t support connection protocols. These would allow you to set up encrypted server protection. At the same time, most VPN providers don’t have a special feature that supports gaming consoles.
You can search for the VPN provider that also offers Smart DNS proxies. You can then set it up on the console, whether it’s PS4 or PS3. This type of connection doesn’t make your connection private, it just changes your IP/location.
Here’s everything you need to know about the differences between a VPN and a Smart DNS.
Coming back, you can also use a router that has a VPN connection set up. This can be the simplest choice, as you’d only have to connect your console to the router. Not to mention that your whole WiFi will be protected.
Another way of using a VPN on your PlayStation console is to actually use it on your computer. You are able to share the connection with your console, hence your PS connection will benefit from the advantages of using a VPN.
Just to keep things a bit organized for you, I’ve created this small paragraph.
The whole range advantages of using a VPN is quite big, and you can read about it all right here
After you read the article, you can pick up the exact advantages of using a VPN on a PlayStation console:
- Different prices across PlayStation Network Stores - one game might cost $25 in the USA, but it might be slightly cheaper in Europe. This leads to an economic advantage
- Boost in speed - as some servers used with a VPN might be closer to games’ servers
- Security - your console will be secured and private. DDoS attacks won’t be a threat to you, either.
Keep in mind two things:
There are free VPNs, but they might come at a cost (DNS leaks, storing data etc.);
Even though there are free versions of the paid VPNs, if you want to use them while gaming, you’d have to buy the subscription. The free versions come with a limited amount of data, and online games can “eat” a lot of data.
As you can see, there are a lot of aspects regarding the PlayStation experience. From data breaches, to account hackers, you're the one that can keep yourself safe from unwanted security situations.
For more information regarding how VPNs work, and various other online security aspects, visit our blog.