After an "external intrusion" on the PlayStation Network, Sony shut down the service (along with Qriocity) late last Wednesday. There's no estimate being shared for its return. This we know. But while there's been some concern that hackers may have gained access to credit card information in the process of attacking PSN, it's reportedly Sony itself that fears being ripped off. A user on reddit going by the name chesh420 who claims to be a moderator at website PSX-Scene has speculated upon the reasoning behind Sony taking PSN offline. What it comes down to is a recently-released custom firmware that allegedly allows users to bypass credit card validation, therefore allowing them to use fake card numbers to make PSN purchases. According to chesh, Sony is now trying to patch the issue. More importantly, despite fears that PSN users' credit card numbers may be compromised, there's been no indication that such a theft has taken place or that it would even be possible with the hack. We can't confirm if any of this is accurate, but the time table offered up (Rebug became available on March 31) does make the explanation a possibility. Of course, it would be a real PR headache if legitimate gamers have been unable to access PSN for almost five full days because of an issue like this, not to mention the legitimate purchases developers have been missing out on as a result of the downtime.[/p] Source (1up) Reddit post The Reddit post Ok, I've seen a bunch of speculation of why people think PSN is down, and I thought I should just post what the community knows in comparison to what Sony is telling everyone. The truth is, there was a new CFW (custom firmware) released known as Rebug (http://rebug.me). It essentially turns a retail console into a dev console (not fully, but gives you a lot of the same options that usually dev's only have access to). Anyway, this new CFW was quickly figured out to give CFW users access to the PSN network again via the dev networks. With a little manipulation of the URL's through a proxy server you could get your hacked console back online. Not that big of a deal, right? Well, it also turns out that some people over at NGU found out that you could provide fake CC# info and the authenticity of the information was never checked as you were on Sony's private developer PSN network (essentially a network that Sony trusted). What happened next was extreme piracy of PSN content. Sony realizing the issue here shut down the network. Now, before you go freaking out about the latest information posted about Kotaku, no ones personal information was accessible via this hack. Not to say they couldn't get it, but no one is admitting to it being available. Anyway, that's the real reason for the PSN downtime. Sony is now rebuilding all of it's PSN servers to be more secure and (hopefully) make sure the CFW users cannot get online anymore. Edit #1: To those of you saying that this is speculation, you are correct. But, it is speculation based on a lot of facts and the outcome seems to make the most sense. 1. Rebug was released on 3/31/11. 2. First guides of how to use the dev network to get back on COD games on 4/3/11. 3. Word of "shady" sites finding a way to pirate PSN content via the dev networks on 4/7/11 (basing this on posts I had to delete on the website). 4. PSN goes down on 4/20/11 Now, you can believe Sony's PR team which has kept you completely in the dark, or you can see the list of events above and come to your own conclusion. Now, this isn't the first time Sony has fought back against the PS3 modders from getting on PSN. A couple of months ago we had a utility called f*ckPSN that changed the necessary header information that was being sent to Sony to allow modified consoles back online. We were able to use it for about a month. Then came the new TOS, the mass e-mail to PS3 customers, and software update 3.56 and 3.60. So, once again, yes this is all speculation, but it is speculation based on previous actions and known facts. Edit #2: Mathieulh just mentioned that he has been in contact with someone that has official access to the SCE devnet servers and it was posted to them today that only 3.60+ debug firmwares will be allowed on the dev network anymore. All earlier versions will be cut. If you want to retain your access you need to contact Sony and upgrade to 3.60 debug firmware.