Millions of Playstation 3 owners went on their PS3s to play online on April 21 of 2011 to find out that Sony's Playstation Network was down. There have been many rumors about what happened. Some say it was a mad Sony Employee... Some say it was taken down by the infamous hacking group "Anonymous." I am Justin Silvera and I worked for Sony from 2000-2011. I was a long time employee and was laid off in December 2011. I was there when it happened. I remember the chaos. So let me begin by going back in the year 2000. The year I started working there. I was in the development department of the Playstation 2.
I was hired in February 2000. I never really got to see the actual well known development, I was simply a syntax checker and nothing more. I remember though one Friday morning I was at the office when the development team came in to see everybody. There was one man though that was highly disliked by the rest of the team. He was in his Mid-40s and he was one of the network coders. I walked up to him since he just sat against the wall and I introduced myself. His name was James Williams. James and I quickly became friends and went out for drinks after work that day. He was a really nice guy once you got to know him. One question I wanted to ask him so bad though was why he was so disliked by the rest of the team. This question I so deeply wanted to ask, so I did. He looked at me and frowned.
He went on to tell me a story about how he was considered a favorite of the other developers. I understood since favoritism is like the most hated thing in almost all of the departments. My friendship with James lasted until May 2005... James had coded the base of Playstation Network and Playstation Network was 98% complete. James was 52 years old... James was laid off for the obvious reason of being too old. There is no doubt in my mind that the other members of the team had a part in him getting laid off. James went into a very deep depression and died at the age of 53 on a drug prescription overdose. A month later I got a letter that was sent from him and had been put on hold. It read:
- Dear Justin,
- You will want this 5 digit encryption key in the future. Thanks for being a friend and I hope you will use this to your advantage.
- 5E 4A D1 FF E9.
When James died his name was removed from the credits list and someone else took the credit. His entire employee record was removed for an unknown reason... Well, I remember April 21 and it will forever stick in my mind. The whole department was in chaos and new coding was coming in like crazy and I was checking syntax over and over again. Well, this is what happened. All the credit card and personal information of users was taken and there was a extra file called Jameshasreturned.pkg in the database.
This file could not be deleted nor modified in anyway. This file stayed and the Network could not be returned to its usual state. Then one day the leader of the Development came into the office and said 'We need everybody here to begin cracking this 5 key Hex Code." "We have found out the first Hex: 5E." I instantly realized that it was the 5 Hex Code that I got in the mail in 2006. I gave the code and Playstation Network was restored. I got a raise but then there was one big question. Who put that file? Well we looked at the date it was added and it was added March 16, 2005. The day that the base of Playstation Network was coded. Everybody was in shock and had no idea how this file was added there when the server file system is checked daily. I was laid off in December in 2011 due to cut backs and this is the reason I have released this story.