PlayStation Network back online? Almost.

The PlayStation Network will be back online by the end of the week, Sony reps say. PSN has remained shuttered for almost two weeks.

PlayStation Network users, take heart: PSN service will soon be restored.

It has not been a very good couple of weeks for users of the PlayStation Network, the popular online gaming portal maintained by Sony. Sometime in later April, hackers managed to worm their way into the PSN and Qriocity, a Sony-owned music and video streaming service. To prevent further damage –– and to stem the loss of valuable user information –– Sony shuttered PSN, Sony reps acknowledged in a press conference on Thursday.

So when is the Sony PlayStation Network coming back online? This week, probably. At the same press conference, which was held at Sony HQ in Tokyo, Sony exec Kazuo Hirai apologized to gamers, and promised that the PSN would be live again by Friday. When the network does return, Hirai added, according to eWeek, it will return stronger and safer than ever.

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In a press release published on the PlayStation blog, Patrick Seybold, a Sony rep, announced the PlayStation 3 would get a "forced system software update," which would "require all registered PlayStation Network users to change their account passwords before being able to sign into the service. As an added layer of security, that password can only be changed on the same PS3 in which that account was activated, or through validated email confirmation."

Sony, Seybold continued, "is conducting a thorough and on-going investigation and working with law enforcement to track down and prosecute those responsible for the illegal intrusion." As we reported earlier, Sony has not ruled out the possibility that credit card information was stolen in the attack, but as of yet, the extent of the breach appears to be minimal.

And at least one analyst says Sony acted correctly by shutting down PSN when it did. "For a ‘crisis mode’ incident response, we could hardly have asked for better," Jon Heimerl, director of strategic security for Solutionary, recently told eWeek.

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