A speculative VentureBeat report suggests that Sony took down the PlayStation Network completely to avoid a new program that let hackers use a credit card number to download software - even if the credit card number was fake. The report points to a post on Reddit from a user named chesh420 - who is also a moderator at PS3 hacking site PSX-Scene.
The lengthy Reddit post contends that Sony took down the PlayStation Network because of a new custom firmware called Rebug, which basically turns a consumer PS3 into a limited developer PS3. This in turn gives the user access to the private developer section of the PlayStation Network. More from the posts on Reddit:
Ok, I've seen a bunch of speculation of why people think PSN is down, and I thought I should just post what the community knows in comparison to what Sony is telling everyone. The truth is, there was a new CFW (custom firmware) released known as Rebug (http://rebug.me). It essentially turns a retail console into a dev console (not fully, but gives you a lot of the same options that usually dev's only have access to). Anyway, this new CFW was quickly figured out to give CFW users access to the PSN network again via the dev networks. With a little manipulation of the URL's through a proxy server you could get your hacked console back online. Not that big of a deal, right? Well, it also turns out that some people over at NGU found out that you could provide fake CC# info and the authenticity of the information was never checked as you were on Sony's private developer PSN network (essentially a network that Sony trusted). What happened next was extreme piracy of PSN content. Sony realizing the issue here shut down the network. Now, before you go freaking out about the latest information posted about Kotaku, no ones personal information was accessible via this hack. Not to say they couldn't get it, but no one is admitting to it being available. Anyway, that's the real reason for the PSN downtime. Sony is now rebuilding all of it's PSN servers to be more secure and (hopefully) make sure the CFW users cannot get online anymore.
Edit #1: To those of you saying that this is speculation, you are correct. But, it is speculation based on a lot of facts and the outcome seems to make the most sense.
1. Rebug was released on 3/31/11.
2. First guides of how to use the dev network to get back on COD games on 4/3/11. 3. Word of "shady" sites finding a way to pirate PSN content via the dev networks on 4/7/11 (basing this on posts I had to delete on the website). 4. PSN goes down on 4/20/11 Now, you can believe Sony's PR team which has kept you completely in the dark, or you can see the list of events above and come to your own conclusion. Now, this isn't the first time Sony has fought back against the PS3 modders from getting on PSN. A couple of months ago we had a utility called f*ckPSN that changed the necessary header information that was being sent to Sony to allow modified consoles back online. We were able to use it for about a month. Then came the new TOS, the mass e-mail to PS3 customers, and software update 3.56 and 3.60. So, once again, yes this is all speculation, but it is speculation based on previous actions and known facts.
Edit #2: Mathieulh just mentioned that he has been in contact with someone that has official access to the SCE devnet servers and it was posted to them today that only 3.60+ debug firmwares will be allowed on the dev network anymore. All earlier versions will be cut. If you want to retain your access you need to contact Sony and upgrade to 3.60 debug firmware."