NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The distributed denial of service attacks that brought down Microsoft's (MSFT) - Get Report Xbox Live and Sony's (SNE) - Get Report PlayStation Network on Christmas Day and Dec. 26 have been a major annoyance for gamers, but so far no data breach has been reported to accompany the attack.
Microsoft told us that user data from Xbox Live accounts have not been compromised and that its system, as of Friday, was back online. But the company would not comment on whether Xbox Live members face dangers regarding the overall security of their consoles.
"We have no evidence of a security breach. Yesterday, some users were unable to sign in to Xbox Live. Our teams worked throughout the holiday to resolve the issue, and Xbox Live core services have now been restored," Microsoft wrote at the time.
Sony did not respond with a comment on whether PlayStation Network member data were taken or if their consoles are in any specific danger.
There are steps gamers can take to make it as difficult as possible for a hacker to gain access to their personal data through their console. Unlike a PC, smartphone or tablet that can have firewalls and third-party security software added, there is little security installed on a gaming device other than the password required to log into your account or marketplace, said the Symantec (SYMC) - Get Report Security Response team, maker of the Norton Brand of Internet security software.
But that does not mean consumers are defenseless.
"Securing your router is a good first step to safeguard not only your gaming consoles, but also any other connected devices in your home. A lot of people don't realize that standard-issue routers have a default password that should be changed before using them. Otherwise, enterprising attackers can look up that information and use it to compromise other networked devices," Symantec's Security Response team said.
Other general tips for keeping a console and home network secure include:
- Performing an audit on the devices you own and what is connected to see which ones are accessible remotely from outside and if they need to be secured.
- When installing apps and software, always pay attention to what levels of access they're requesting.
- Check regularly for updates from the device manufacturer's official websites, as they might contain fixes to patch up vulnerabilities.
If a gamer takes these steps, it will only keep their information safe, though, and have no impact on the type of attack that brought down Xbox Live and PlayStation Network.
"In the case of the alleged DDoS attacks against online gaming entities, it wouldn't matter if you had the most secure gaming console possible — you still wouldn't have been able to access the parts of the gaming networks impacted, since the outages were on the servers' side, not the end-users' side," Symantec Security response team said.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.