As of today, the PlayStation Network is still experience a service outage that started last week out of the blue, caused by a yet-to-be-indentified “external intrusion”. As we speak, the company is acting to “rebuild” the infrastructure of their online network.

Taking to the PS Blog on day six of the downtime for a quick, but underwhelming update, Sony’s Patrick Seybold tells users “I know you are waiting for additional information on when PlayStation Network and Qriocity services will be online. Unfortunately, I don’t have an update or timeframe to share at this point in time. As we previously noted, this is a time intensive process and we’re working to get them back online quickly. We’ll keep you updated with information as it becomes available. We once again thank you for your patience.

But if some internet rumormongering has any truth to it (and it sort of does), there might be a very good reason for what exactly is going on. According to a recent Reddit post by an alleged moderator of known hacking/modding site PSX-Scene (via IndustryGamers), Sony actually took PSN offline due to the custom firmware Rebug, which hit the internet at the tail end of March.

By using the Rebug exploit, hackers can apparently gain access to the typically-restricted PSN developer network by making the service think a retail unit is in fact a debug/developer kit, and then proceed to obtain PlayStation Store content by creating a dummy credit card account that is not verified. That would explain — among other things — the need to “rebuild” PSN. The Reddit poster added that while the public outage continues, Sony is requiring developers to update to a newer PS3 debug firmware, not available to the masses.

The report further states that Rebug doesn’t allow users hackers to gain access to any private information of other PSN members, but Sony has gone on record this week (via PCWorld) as saying they aren’t yet definitively sure if personal details — including liked credit cards — have been compromised as a result of the network failure.

Sony has not commented on any of these claims, so everything should be taken with a grain of salt, but when examined things do begin to fall into place here and there.

Currently there’s no time frame for when PSN will be back up and running.

[Update]: After a full week of near silence on the matter, Sony has finally come clean. Following an extensive investigation, yes, the security breach has allowed hackers access to users’ personal information over PSN. However, it’s currently unclear whether or not credit card info has been compromised. The company has tapped a “recognized security firm” in their rebuilding efforts.

So what sort of data has been stolen by hackers, you ask? Take your pick. There’s a good chance that your full name and adrress, county, email account, birthday and PSN ID login have been obtained.

“We have discovered that between April 17 and April 19, 2011, certain PlayStation Network and Qriocity service user account information was compromised in connection with an illegal and unauthorized intrusion into our network. While there is no evidence at this time that credit card data was taken, we cannot rule out the possibility,” writes Sony’s Patrick Seybold.

“If you have provided your credit card data through PlayStation Network or Qriocity, out of an abundance of caution we are advising you that your credit card number (excluding security code) and expiration date may have been obtained. To protect against possible identity theft or other financial loss, we encourage you to remain vigilant, to review your account statements and to monitor your credit report.”

“We thank you for your patience as we complete our investigation of this incident, and we regret any inconvenience. Our teams are working around the clock on this, and services will be restored as soon as possible. Sony takes information protection very seriously and will continue to work to ensure that additional measures are taken to protect personally identifiable information. Providing quality and secure entertainment services to our customers is our utmost priority. Please contact us at 1-800-345-7669 should you have any additional questions.

Naturally the potential for phishing scams via all manner of methods is incredibly high now, and Sony is encouraging everyone to change/update their passwords and email for the PSN.

“We have a clear path to have PlayStation Network and Qriocity systems back online, and expect to restore some services within a week,” said Seybold. “We’re working day and night to ensure it is done as quickly as possible.”

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