PlayStation Network is not back yet, but Sony took an important step towards changing that this afternoon by releasing an updated firmware, dubbed version 3.61, which will eventually force users to change their passwords.
"We strongly recommend that all PSN account holders with PS3s update their systems to prepare for when PlayStation Network is back online," announced Sony Network Entertainment VP Eric Lempel on the PlayStation Blog today. "The release of this update is a critical step as we work to make PlayStation Network significantly more secure. Thank you for your continued support and patience."
Though many would hope otherwise, this update doesn't turn on multiplayer or bring back the store. It does, however, add an additional layer of security for PS3 going forward, as you will no longer be able to modify your account password anywhere but your own PS3 or a separately activated console.
The update, which like other system updates was prompted when I turned on the PS3, took me about 12 minutes to download and install, but seeing as how I was grabbing the much anticipated update alongside potentially millions of others also enjoying Sturday on the couch, your mileage may vary.
Once the update was applied, as anticipated, nothing changed. PSN is still down. Until PSN is back online, this firmware is nothing more than preparation. When PSN does return, I'll have to change my password--and so will you.