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Sony faces embarrassing breach of security, by unknown hacker who used Amazon’s EC2-Elastic Cloud Computing, service to obtain personal information of users. EC2 accounts need basic information like the company name, contact details and credit card information. Hackers used fictitious accounts, to hack into Sony PSN and obtain account information on around 100 million of its users.

Simplicity of EC2 paves way to a Hacker attack on Sony PSN

This is not the first time, a cloud service which is nothing but a cheap, dynamic solution for storing data, has been used for shady purposes. Amazon EC2 prices range from 3 cents to $2.48 an hour. With such low rates, the attacker or attackers purchased legitimate computing power with a bogus account, to compromise Sony PSN security.

The exact nature of the attack is unclear, but according to a letter sent to a publisher. Sony states, “The forensic teams were able to confirm that intruders had used very sophisticated and aggressive techniques to obtain unauthorized access, hide their presence from system administrators and escalate privileges inside the servers. Among other things, the intruders deleted log files in order to hide the extent of their work and activity within the network.”

Hackers are becoming smart, and innovative. With such simple account creation, Amazon, and Sony both got into bad light. Amazon it self is not in trouble waters, but it seems with this attack, it’s seemingly innocent renting of computing power, have opened doors to more such cyber crimes. Thomas Roth, a German researcher, has quite recently used EC2 to launch brute-force attacks against a WPA-ASK-protected wireless network. For the grand cost of $1.68 and twenty minutes of time, Thomas Roth successfully forced his way into the secured network without issue.  Brute force attack is the most unsophisticated form of hacking a password as it involves using all possible permutations of keys until the exact key is found.

Currently, Sony PSN and Qriocity services have been restored after a one month outage. Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai said the company has begun a phased restoration of most of Sony’s online game play across the PS3, PSP and music services in most regions.

Shedding some light on the matter on PCWorld, Ex-hacker and lead architect at Mykonos Software, Kyle Adams, suggested Sony might have opened doors to hackers by using outdated software. According to him, hackers inserted malicious code into the database –SQL injection attack, and the server erroneously executed the code. This allowed the hackers to gain access to the server. He suggested that the attackers may have entered the server through Sony’s blog. Sony’s blog was using an outdated version of WordPress, which has known SQL injection vulnerabilities.

So far, Sony has pointed its fingers at Anonymous a known hacker group. The group has denied its involvement on its blog post, and has blaimed outdated software of Sony for this breach of security.

What ever the case maybe these giants, Sony and Amazon, need some hard thinking, software up gradation and more tighter security controls are needed to protect millions of users.

With a VPN service, working on a remote server is possible. But you can avoid such embarrassing episodes by relying on best reputed VPN providers. Numerous companies offer VPN service that allow corporate to ensure that various levels/protocols for encryption like PPTP VPN, SSL VPN, SSTP VPN and Open VPN are set in place which ensures that the clients working on that server are safe from cyber attack.


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