The PlayStation Network and related services are finally coming online after a long outage.

New and returning customers get to pick two free games out of multiple titles -- such as "Little Big Planet".  (Source: PS2Vicio)
Hopefully Sony can set unprecedented security breaches behind it

After a long leave of absence after being hacked and losing users’
 personal data, the PlayStation Network (PSN), Sony Corp.'s (6758) online gaming platform for the PlayStation Portable and PS3, is finally coming back online.

I. Welcome Back in Style

To try to lure wary users back to its service, Sony is offering a special "Welcome Back" program, which includes a 30-day free PlayStation Plus subscription (60-days free for existing subscribers) and free movie rentals for an entire weekend.  

PSP users get their pick of two of four games -- LittleBigPlanet (PSP), ModNation Racers (PSP), Pursuit Force or Killzone Liberation -- and PS3 users get to pick two of five games -- Dead Nation, infamous, LittleBigPlanet, Super Stardust HD or Wipeout HD + Fury expansion.

Sony has not yet announced details of where users will sign up for the complementary package.  Press releases are reportedly impending, to inform customers in various regions how to sign up.

More good news for users who do manage to log in is that a broad array of new content in the PlayStation Store and PlayStation Plus downloads section has been added.

II. Launch Has Some (Hopefully) Minor Issues

Sadly, Sony's big launch was marred by errors for customers returning to the service.  Users in various web forums were reporting Wednesday and Thursday experiencing 80710D36 errors, signing in errors, or no content errors.  It is unknown whether these errors are merely due to the high level of traffic from returning users overloading servers, or if something more sinister is afoot.

Yesterday Sony's servers were completely taken down for several hours at one point for "crucial" maintenance.

Sony's restoration also brings the company's streaming music/video service Qriocity back online.  DC Universe also appears to be back in action, which means Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) services are restoring in some regions as well.

The current regions being brought back online include Americas, Europe/PAL regions and Asia (excluding Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea).  Note that Sony's home nation of Japan is not allowing the service to resume yet, in contrast to previous reports that indicated it was going to.  The Japanese government has demanded additional reporting from Sony in the wake of its record data loss.  A full list of when regions will come back on line is available here from Sony's PlayStation Blog.

III. Hacked: The Aftermath

The hack of Sony in late April and on-going attacks throughout May amount to perhaps the worst loss of information and security breaches in modern corporate history.  The company first experienced a near complete loss of information from its two largest customer databases -- the PlayStation Network (PSN) database and the Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) database.  This week, five of its international sites for its various units fell prey to SQL injection attacks (affectionately nicknamed the "Little Bobby Tables" attack) [1] [2] [3].

Sony is offering a year of free identity theft protection in the U.S. to those customers who had their information stolen.

No one knows exactly how much the loss of over 101 million user records will affect Sony, financially.  In 2010 the average cost per lost record was $318 USD (including class action lawsuit settlements); Sony expects to only lose approximate $2 USD per user record -- less than 1 percent of the industry average.  The breaches have cause Sony to be afflicted with loss of business internationally and class action lawsuits from disgruntled former customers.

Nonetheless the company is soldiering on and preparing the PlayStation 4, the successor to the PS3.  The PS4 will be Sony's fourth major home console.

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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