Sony Says Sorry About the Inconvenience

Part of Playstation Network may be back up this week

2 min read
Sony Says Sorry About the Inconvenience

Yesterday, the Sony executive in charge of its video game and consumer electronics unit, Kazuo Hirai, apologized for "worrying and inconveniencing" the 77 million registered Playstation Network users that has been caused by the hacking of the Playstation Network almost two weeks ago.

According to the Wall Street Journal,  Mr. Hirai also said that Sony could not rule out that the credit-card information of some 10 million customers has been compromised. The credit card information was encrypted, however. But he did confirmed that the names, addresses, e-mail addresses and birthdates of all of its registered users had been accessed.

Mr. Hirai went on to say that Sony's online services have been under attack for the past six weeks, as well as that "... the personal information of its executives and their children had been published online, along with threats made against Sony's retail outlets."

The Journal quoted Mr. Hirai as saying:

"We're still not sure what the goal of these people who entered our system [is] and why they did this dishonest act."

Another article in the New York Times says that parts of the PlayStation Network would be online before the end of the week, but that it will likely take a full month before all services are restored. Customers will need to change their passwords to access the network, and will be given compensation in the form of free content of some kind as part of a customer "appreciation plan."

As I predicted, the US Congress has decided to hold hearings this week on the breach. The Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade sent a letter (PDF) to Sony on Friday "demanding answers" to 13 questions about the data breach. The 13 questions basically are what do you know about the breach, when did you know it, and what took you so long to disclose it type of questions. 

In addition, the Australia, the UK and Hong Kong have each said they are launching investigations, but the EU is still quiet on the subject.

According to Sony, a story in the Washington Post says,

"... of the 77 million PlayStation Network accounts, about 36 million are in the U.S. and elsewhere in the Americas, while 32 million are in Europe and 9 million in Asia, mostly in Japan."

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Metamaterials Could Solve One of 6G’s Big Problems

There’s plenty of bandwidth available if we use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces

12 min read
An illustration depicting cellphone users at street level in a city, with wireless signals reaching them via reflecting surfaces.

Ground level in a typical urban canyon, shielded by tall buildings, will be inaccessible to some 6G frequencies. Deft placement of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces [yellow] will enable the signals to pervade these areas.

Chris Philpot

For all the tumultuous revolution in wireless technology over the past several decades, there have been a couple of constants. One is the overcrowding of radio bands, and the other is the move to escape that congestion by exploiting higher and higher frequencies. And today, as engineers roll out 5G and plan for 6G wireless, they find themselves at a crossroads: After years of designing superefficient transmitters and receivers, and of compensating for the signal losses at the end points of a radio channel, they’re beginning to realize that they are approaching the practical limits of transmitter and receiver efficiency. From now on, to get high performance as we go to higher frequencies, we will need to engineer the wireless channel itself. But how can we possibly engineer and control a wireless environment, which is determined by a host of factors, many of them random and therefore unpredictable?

Perhaps the most promising solution, right now, is to use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces. These are planar structures typically ranging in size from about 100 square centimeters to about 5 square meters or more, depending on the frequency and other factors. These surfaces use advanced substances called metamaterials to reflect and refract electromagnetic waves. Thin two-dimensional metamaterials, known as metasurfaces, can be designed to sense the local electromagnetic environment and tune the wave’s key properties, such as its amplitude, phase, and polarization, as the wave is reflected or refracted by the surface. So as the waves fall on such a surface, it can alter the incident waves’ direction so as to strengthen the channel. In fact, these metasurfaces can be programmed to make these changes dynamically, reconfiguring the signal in real time in response to changes in the wireless channel. Think of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces as the next evolution of the repeater concept.

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