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Sony will give you $50,000 dollars to do this

Thanks to video games like the Watch Dogs franchise, gamers have gotten used to doing a bit of fictional hacking in their downtime. However, Sony is now looking to pay actual hackers to help them secure the safety and privacy of future gamers. That's why Sony has announced the PlayStation Bug Bounty program. Through this new initiative, Sony is offering to pay handsome sums of money to ethical hackers who can find loopholes and flaws in the security of PlayStation consoles. 

The PlayStation Bug Bounty program was announced in a post to the official PlayStation blog earlier this week. Geoff Norton, the Senior Director Software Engineering at Sony Interactive Entertainment, wrote, "At PlayStation, we are committed to providing gamers all over the world with great experiences. I'm happy to announce today that we have started a public PlayStation Bug Bounty program because the security of our products is a fundamental part of creating amazing experiences for our community."

Norton continued, "We believe that through working with the security research community we can deliver a safer place to play. We have partnered with HackerOne to help run this program, and we are inviting the security research community, gamers, and anyone else to test the security of PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Network."

HackerOne is a company that organizes and works with amateur hackers and security system analysts to look for the kinds of holes that hackers usually take advantage of. According to Norton, PlayStation has been working with independent hackers and security researches for quite some time, but it seemed that it was finally time to take advantage of the wider world of ethical hackers.

Norton explained, "To date, we have been running our bug bounty program privately with some researchers. We recognize the valuable role that the research community plays in enhancing security, so we're excited to announce our program for the broader community."

On HackerOne's official website, the company explained a bit more about how the PlayStation Bug Bounty program works. PlayStation is mainly concerned with the PlayStation Network and the general ins and outs of the PlayStation 4 at this time. To that end, bounties will be paid out in different tiers, depending on the severity of the issue and where the issue was detected. For instance, finding a critical PlayStation 4 security risk could earn an eagle-eyed hacker up to $50,000. Meanwhile, a smaller scale problem in the PlayStation Network side of things may only pay around $100.

Still, it's an interesting development to see from Sony. It's likely that the company wants to beef up its security in new ways ahead of the release of the PlayStation 5. After all, security issues are becoming more and more frequent with even the largest video game companies.

In the last few months, Nintendo Switch owners have been complaining of widespread hacking issues. It was recently reported that as many as 300,000 Nintendo accounts were compromised by outside parties. Some users reported having their credit cards charged to purchase in-game items through the Nintendo eShop, while others simply dealt with numerous annoying login attempts from people outside of the country. It has also been theorized that these hackers were using some kind of VPN-masking software. In other words, it has been nearly impossible to find these guys so far.

Meanwhile, Naughty Dog ran into trouble with someone hacking its private servers. The hackers then pulled footage from the then-unreleased The Last of Us Part 2 and leaked it online. This was a major disappointment for fans who had waited years to play the game, as well as for the members of the development team who had worked so hard on it.

Other companies taking a similar tactic in combating hacking include Riot Games. Prior to the release of its recent tactical shooter Valorant, Riot Games offered $100,000 to anyone who could successfully hack its new anti-cheating software. The concern here was that this software booted up along with a user's computer. With the software running in the background at all times, an attack on this program could prove to be especially invasive. 

PlayStation seems to be attempting to learn from past mistakes here, as well. Back in 2011, the PlayStation Network was hacked and subsequently went down for 23 days. During that time, personal customer info was stolen by those hackers, resulting in a ton of bad press for Sony at the time. With the PlayStation Bug Bounty program, it seems that Sony is broadening its reach and strengthening its efforts in the fight against unethical hacking.