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PlayStation Network to return this week without a store, 'Welcome Back' program outlined

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For a security breach whose victims number over 77 million — most of them worldwide, if PS3 hardware sales figures are any indication — Sony's choice for a 2PM JST press conference (that's 1AM EDT and 6AM BST) is odd to say the least, especially for a Sunday and for news that isn't exactly breaking. But it's Sony, which is to say, nothing really surprises any of us at this point. The company's heir apparent Kaz Hirai outlined what we should expect to see when PlayStation Network and Qriocity go back online this week, as well as some of what users will receive as part of its "'Welcome Back' appreciation program." Still no word on who actually did the deed, and the additional details of the attack itself are sparse at best, but there's a lot to cover here anyway.

Hirai reaffirms that the company was alerted of the breach on April 20th and promptly shut down services. The affected San Diego data center has now been moved to a new location and bulked up with numerous new security enhancements, including additional firewalls and methods to detect intrusion / unauthorized access in the network. Sony has worked with "multiple expert information security firms and over the course of several days and conducted an extensive audit of the system." It's still being dubbed a "criminal cyber-attack," and although credit cards have yet to be ruled out, Hirai notes that so far no reports of credit fraud have been confirmed.

As for what to expect when the services return this week, the company has said to expect at least online game-play (including friends list and chat functionality), Account Management (including password reset), Qriocity Music Unlimited for existing customers, Access to download un-expired movie rentals, and... PlayStation Home. If I'm reading this right, what isn't being promised is any aspect of the PSN / Qriocity service that involves exchanging currency, which makes perfect sense seeing how that'll undoubtedly require more security in place before it can be restored.

So you lost the ability to play Portal 2 online within a day of its release — how is Sony making it up to you? The "Welcome Back" program isn't full of details, but here's what's being said: 30 free days of PlayStation Plus (and an additional 30 days for current subscribers) and 30 days of Qriocity Music Unlimited. Additionally, "selected PlayStation entertainment content for free download" will be offered, and Sony will clarify what content (which will vary based on region) soon. The "thank you / we're sorry" goodies will be handed out "over the coming weeks."

I think at this point it's safe to say that, whether Sony's handling of George "Geohot" Hotz is cited as a reason for the hack, it's gone far beyond that at this point. No group has taken credit for the breach. No one's being told — publicly, at least — where this attack emanated from and how close anyone is to being arrested. The US Department of Homeland Security has pledged to investigate, and both the UK's Information Commissioner's Office and Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano are publicly pressuring Sony for answers. The hacking whodunnit is still unsolved, but with the concern being so large and international, if the culprits are ever caught, rest assured everyone'll hear about it.