Finally good news for anxious Sony PlayStation fans - the Japanese company tendered a heartfelt apology on Saturday and said it would begin restoring the PlayStation Network services as early as this Sunday.
However, the restoration will be phased and it could take the service as long as a month or perhaps more to be fully restored.
The Japanese electronics and entertainment giant has been under heavy pressure to restore the services ever since it was shut down following an hack attack on its servers discovered by Sony on April 20.
The security breach led Sony to believe that the attackers could have infiltrated and acquired personal data on nearly 80 million customers.
It also shut down the network and its Qriocity online music and movie service, frustrating many users.
Later, on May 9, Sony also learned that Sony Online Entertainment (SOE), which runs games such as DC Universe Online, had also been attacked, affecting an additional 24 million accounts.
The attack led Sony to announce that personal information of its 100 million+ users, including sensitive credit card information, could have been stolen. It was billed as one of the largest security breaches in history.
Ever since the hack, Sony announced several times deadlines of getting the services online, but every time it has missed them, saying it is working to make cure that another hack attack does not take place in the future.
Sony also went into damage control mode with its CE Howard Stringer tendering a heartfelt apology. The company also offered a new identify theft insurance policy and rolled out a Welcome Back package. Users of the Sony Online Entertainment service were also offered free game time as compensation for the outage.
However, it failed to placate many people and, according to media reports, many PlayStation users traded in their consoles for Microsoft XBox 360.
But some fans remained loyal and felt Sony has dealt with this with as much grace as any company could.
And now their loyalty has finally been rewarded.
On Saturday, Sony's No.2 Kazuo Hirai thanked PlayStation fans for their patience and support during this time and said the company is taking aggressive action at all levels to address the concerns that were raised by this incident, and are making consumer data protection a full-time, company wide commitment.
Harai, who holds the title of Corporate Executive Officer and Executive Vice President of Networked Products & Services Group, also thanked the anxious fans for their patience. For those of you committed to safety, but waited for some time now, humbly we thank you for understanding, he said.
Sony went on to say that it is migrating files to new servers that facilitate early detection of cyber-attacks and secure data management and the restoration process of the PlayStation gaming network would begin this Sunday, on a country-by-country basis, and the entire process is expected to be completed by May 31.
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