Praise be! The PlayStation Network is back online again

After a three-week shutdown, I can once again play <em>Little Big Planet</em> the way nature intende

It's over. After three weeks without access to user-generated Little Big Planet levels, life is back to normal.

Just before Easter, Sony detected a "external intrusion" on PlayStation's online network, PSN, which potentially meant its 77 million users were vulnerable to credit card fraud. It's taken until now to get the service back online again. Britain's access was restored about 6pm and other regions followed later.

Japan is still not back online because the country's government is seeking more assurances about strengthened security.

The big question that is still unanswered is this: was any credit or debit card information stolen in a usable form? Sony insists that its data was protected and there have been no reports of theft. And anyway, the company says it doesn't store the three-digit security code on the back of cards on its servers, instead taking this from users with every transaction.

Another question is why it took Sony so long to confirm the attack. It happened on 17, 18 or 19 April and yet was only confirmed on 26 April. It blamed the hack on the Anonymous collective but Anonymous have denied responsibility.

Sony says that it's vital for users to change their PSN passwords (and change their passwords generally if they use the same one on several sites) as soon as the service resumes in their area. They're hoping to calm the inevitable consumer agenda with a choice of free games and other goodies.

In the US, the company is offering $1m identity theft insurance and a similar scheme is expected to be extended to Britain.

As I type, I'm looking at an updated user agreement . . . I wonder if it there will be a clause in there saying I can't blame Sony if something similar happens again. Oh well, let's hope Sony is better at rebuilding network servers than I am at steering Sackboy around.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.

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For the first time in my life I have a sworn enemy – and I don’t even know her name

The cyclist, though, was enraged. “THAT’S CLEVER, ISN’T IT?” she yelled. “WALKING IN THE ROAD!”

Last month, I made an enemy. I do not say this lightly, and I certainly don’t say it with pride, as a more aggressive male might. Throughout my life I have avoided confrontation with a scrupulousness that an unkind observer would call out-and-out cowardice. A waiter could bring the wrong order, cold and crawling with maggots, and in response to “How is everything?” I’d still manage a grin and a “lovely, thanks”.

On the Underground, I’m so wary of being a bad citizen that I often give up my seat to people who aren’t pregnant, aren’t significantly older than me, and in some cases are far better equipped to stand than I am. If there’s one thing I am not, it’s any sort of provocateur. And yet now this: a feud.

And I don’t even know my enemy’s name.

She was on a bike when I accidentally entered her life. I was pushing a buggy and I wandered – rashly, in her view – into her path. There’s little doubt that I was to blame: walking on the road while in charge of a minor is not something encouraged by the Highway Code. In my defence, it was a quiet, suburban street; the cyclist was the only vehicle of any kind; and I was half a street’s length away from physically colliding with her. It was the misjudgment of a sleep-deprived parent rather than an act of malice.

The cyclist, though, was enraged. “THAT’S CLEVER, ISN’T IT?” she yelled. “WALKING IN THE ROAD!”

I was stung by what someone on The Apprentice might refer to as her negative feedback, and walked on with a redoubled sense of the parental inadequacy that is my default state even at the best of times.

A sad little incident, but a one-off, you would think. Only a week later, though, I was walking in a different part of town, this time without the toddler and engrossed in my phone. Again, I accept my culpability in crossing the road without paying due attention; again, I have to point out that it was only a “close shave” in the sense that meteorites are sometimes reported to have “narrowly missed crashing into the Earth” by 50,000 miles. It might have merited, at worst, a reproving ting of the bell. Instead came a familiar voice. “IT’S YOU AGAIN!” she yelled, wrathfully.

This time the shock brought a retort out of me, probably the harshest thing I have ever shouted at a stranger: “WHY ARE YOU SO UNPLEASANT?”

None of this is X-rated stuff, but it adds up to what I can only call a vendetta – something I never expected to pick up on the way to Waitrose. So I am writing this, as much as anything, in the spirit of rapprochement. I really believe that our third meeting, whenever it comes, can be a much happier affair. People can change. Who knows: maybe I’ll even be walking on the pavement

Mark Watson is a stand-up comedian and novelist. His most recent book, Crap at the Environment, follows his own efforts to halve his carbon footprint over one year.

This article first appeared in the 20 October 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Brothers in blood