2011 PlayStation Network Outage Explained

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Welcome to Episode 5 of Terminal Stack’s series, this is the last episode of our series 5 Biggest Hacks Ever! In this post of Terminal Stack, we will take a look at the Playstation Network Outage of 2011, which is counted amongst the biggest hacks in the world! So let’s jump into the post.


On 17th April 2011, several functions of PlayStation Network went down, 3 days later Sony officially recognized this cyber attack and made a public announcement regarding the same. More than 77 million users were affected and their data was stolen. The outage lasted 23 days keeping the PlayStation unusable for users in this time period. Sony announced that this was a very carefully planned attack and the hackers had planted a file in Sony servers which had text “ We are Legion” in it, this is a popular slogan of headless hacker group Anonymous.

Also Read: Shamoon Malware Explained


The hackers began attacking on 17th April, the PlayStation welcome screen was changed to a maintenance page. On 20th April Sony took down PlayStation services worldwide to fix the bugs and exploits. Sony said to its users that this is an extremely time consuming process but it will eventually lead to an exploit-free software which will be beneficial in the long term.

On 1st May Sony announced a “Welcome Back” program on restoration of it’s services. Several key features were made back available for users to use. Sony started to slowly bring back all its service while making sure to carefully pen test all these features. On 18th May, it shut down the password reset page of PlayStation after discovery of an exploit that allowed users to change the password of other users.

This attack became the biggest data breach in history with over 77 million users losing their data and credit card information.


The real process of how the servers were hacked was not made public by Sony as it could have been used for further exploits. Sony slowly brought back all its services online. Even though credit card information of millions of users was stolen, no credit card fraud was reported to occur and the company also announced financial cover unto 1 million dollars in case of any credit card or identity thefts for one year after this data breach. Sony was criticized for not encrypting user data, Sony in response updated its Terms and Conditions, on agreeing which users could no longer sue Sony in a case of data breaches. 

Sony announced that as a compensation for downtime, all PS users will be given 1 month of free subscription and existing subscribers were given 1 month extension on their existing plans. 

Sony had to suffer a financial loss of around 171 million dollars and enhanced it’s cybersecurity division, it built a new independent data center and appointed a cybersecurity chief. 

This was the end of our series 5 biggest hacks ever, if you liked it please do share it with your friends or on social media, and check out more of our posts below!

Arpit Pandey

Hey there! I am Arpit Pandey, a full stack web developer, SEO specialist, C++ programmer and Co-Founder of this blog. I love to code and write articles!

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