What is PlayStation?
PlayStation is a gaming console created by Sony. In addition to playing games the PlayStation can be used to access the Internet and play CDs and DVDs.
PlayStation 2 offers the following features: 1
- Can play DVDs/ CDs
- Digital Surround Sound
- Ethernet Port/ Ability to connect to the Internet with PlayStation Network
- 2 Memory card slots
- Dualshock controllers 2
- Online Support articles/ instructions 3
PlayStation 3 offers the following features: 4
- XMB In-Game. This gives the player access to more in-game control. They can pause a game, chat with friends while playing, change their settings, and view players' trophy collections. While many of the XMB features are designed for in-game use, not all of them can be used during game play. You also must be using PlayStation 3 (not 2 or just plain PlayStation) to use them. 5
- Trophies. PlayStation awards trophies for reaching different game goals (like beating a level). A user's trophies are displayed on their PlayStation Network profile. These trophies are designed to motivate players to game more and accumulate as many trophies as possible. 6
- Connect to the Internet. Through the PlayStation Network and the Internet, PlayStation lets you access PlayStation plus which lets you try full game trials and buy games from the PlayStation store. You can play MMORPG online games, browse the Internet, chat and video chat with other online users, download movies and television, and access things like Facebook. Basically you can browse the Internet as you would on a normal computer. 7 Specifically you can:8
- Blu-ray Movies. You can play Blu-ray DVDs.
- DVD play. You can also play regular DVDs, and store and organize videos. 10
- CD play. You can play CDs, make playslists, store music, and use the visual player (this displays abstract shapes as you play your music). 11
- 3-D gaming. PlayStation is 3D compatible. However to watch things in 3D you need to buy the 3D version of the game or movie, a 3D TV, 3D sync transmitter kit, 3D glasses, and a high speed HDMI cable. 12
- PlayMemories. This is a feature that lets you display and store 3D and 2D photos. You can create photo slideshows and store the photos in multiple places, including a USB drive or your PlayStation hard disk drive. 13
- customize displays and themes 14
PlayStation 3 Parental Controls
PlayStation 3 offers the following parental controls: 15
- Restrict what your kids are able to watch by using settings based on ESRB game ratings or movie ratings
- Password protect your PlayStation 3 Internet browser
- Restrict what your kids can download on the PlayStation Network. This is also done by creating restricted settings based on game and movie ratings. You can also specify what they can or cannot buy or rent.
- Use Trend Micro Web Security. PlayStation offers Trend Micro Web Security which acts as a content filter for the PlayStation 3 Internet. This feature comes at an additional cost. It has two versions: Web Security and Kid Safety. 16
The PlayStation Network allows PlayStation users to access the Internet, which includes access to media, the PlayStation Store, PlayStation Plus, PlayStation Home, and original programming provided by Sony. It is provided free of charge. 17
In April 2011 (sometime between April 17th-19th), the Sony PlayStation Network suffered a major security breach. 18 Hackers obtained personal information for 77 million PlayStation network customers. This included names, addresses, passwords, login names, e-mails, birthdays, online names, and billing information. 19 20
Later it was revealed that credit card information had also been compromised.21 Although Sony did release a statement saying that the credit card information was encrypted when it was taken. 22 Services were temporarily shut down, starting April 20th (Sony began restoring accounts in mid May), as Sony investigated the breach.23 24
Shortly after this security breach, Sony's Online Entertainment Server was also hacked. This exposed 25 millions customers playing online PC games like EverQuest, DC Universe Online, and Free Realms. 2526
Responses to Security Breaches
Kazuo Hirai and other Sony executives issued an official apology to customers on May 2nd. It also offered things like free PlayStation Plus for 30 days, free downloads, and free identity theft protection for a year to customers affected by the breach. 27 28
Congress sent a letter demanding answers from Sony executives. They declined to speak at a congressional hearing about the breach, but they did respond to the letter. 29 Congress revealed the contents of the letter on May 4, 2011. The letter addressed issues like why Sony waited to inform customers about the breach (Sony began investigating the breach on April 19th and did not inform customers until April 28th), who they think was responsible for the attack, and what Sony is doing to investigate. 30
On May 3rd, the New York Attorney general issued subpoenas to Sony's Computer Entertainment America, Network Entertainment, and Online Entertainment divisions.31 The U.S. Attorney General also stated that the U.S. justice department was also investigating the security breach.32
On May 5th, Sony CEO Howard Stringer apologized for the inconveniences caused by the breaches. He also told customers they were still investigating the breach and that the company was working to get services back up as soon as possible. 33 Many people wondered why the CEO had not apologized earlier. Again, Sony promised to compensate customers by providing things like identity theft monitoring. They also said they were planning on providing more compensation in the future. 34
Who did it
In one report Sony stated that they believed the hacker group Anonymous was behind attacks. They said they found a file named Anonymous in their servers with the words "We are Legion" (Anonymous's slogan). However Anonymous issued their own statement saying they were not involved. 3536
Concerns for Parents
- The system has access to the Internet so you would take the same precaution browsing there as you would with a computer or laptop browser
- Players can chat, video chat, and talk with other gamers. These people may be random people your child has meet through an MMORPG.
- Some games/movie/media can be very violent or feature players (especially female players) that are wearing very little clothing
- If you or your child had an account with the Sony Playstation network during the April 2011 security breaches your information may be compromised. Look out for phishing attempts and other scams. You may also want to keep an eye on your credit card and change any passwords associated with that account.
How Can I Keep My Child Safe?
- Talk about the standards for gaming in your home. When can they play? For how long? What kinds of games?
- Look at the ESRB game ratings and familiarize yourself with what each rating means
- Use the parent controls offered (see the section above) as you need them
- Asses games on an individual basis. Not all games, even if they have the same rating, have the same concerns