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Sony hit by second security breach
Data of 25 million users of PC games stolen after electronics giant's PlayStation network was hacked.
Last Modified: 03 May 2011 05:15
Sony' Kazuo Hirai announced measures had been put in place to avert another cyberattack [AFP]

Sony's internet security crisis has deepened with the company revealing hackers stole data of another 25 million users of its PC games system in a second massive breach for the consumer electronics giant.

Hackers breached Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) network as well as PlayStation Network and Qriocity streaming music service, the Japanese consumer electronics company said on Monday.

The revelation comes just a day after Kazuo Hirai, Sony executive vice-president, announced that measures had been put in place to avert another cyberattack like that which hit its PlayStation Network, hoping to repair its tarnished image and reassure customers.

The attack that Sony disclosed on Monday had occurred a day before a massive break-in of a separate video game network that led to the theft of 77 million users' accounts. Sony revealed that initial attack last week.

The company said it discovered the break-in of its SOE PC games network on May 2. The breach also led to the theft of 10,700 direct debit records from customers in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain and 12,700 non-US credit or debit card numbers, it said.

The PlayStation network lets video game console owners download games and play against friends. The SOE network - the victim of the latest break-in - hosts games played over the internet on PCs.

Sony said late on Monday that the names, addresses, emails, birth dates phone numbers and other information from 24.6 million PC games customers were stolen from its servers as well as an "outdated database" from 2007.

A spokesman for the online games unit based in San Diego, California, said the service was taken down at 1:30am Pacific time on Monday.

Matthew Bath, technology editor at WHICH magazine, told Al Jazeera that both attacks make it the largest data heist in history.

"People will be asking why it has taken Sony so long to tell us all the details about the attacks," Bath said.

"A delay of nearly two weeks is a long time in the world of cyber crime. Those details could be out, online, sold and being used and peoples accounts being attacked right now.

"The first time could be an unfortunate accident but to have two in such a short time people will be certainly saying this is incompetent when it comes to keeping people security data safe. A lot of consumers will be saying is my data safe elsewhere, are the likes of Amazon and Apple also keeping my data safe."

Precautions

Sue Tanaka, Sony's spokeswoman, when asked about the possibility other data could be at risk, listed the precautions that the company has taken such as firewalls. "They are hackers. We don't know where they're going to attack next," Tokyo-based Tanaka said.

The PlayStation Network incident has sparked legal action and investigations by authorities in North America and Europe, home to almost 90 per cent of the users of the network, which enables gamers to download software and compete with other members.

On Monday, Sony declined to testify in person in front of a US congressional hearing, but agreed to respond to questions on how consumer private data is protected by businesses in a letter on Tuesday, said a spokesman for Mary Bono Mack, a Republican Congresswoman from California, who is leading the hearing.

The incident that Sony disclosed on Monday also forced it to suspend its SOE games on Facebook.

Sony posted a message on Facebook saying it had to take down the games during the night.

A Sony spokesman said the Facebook games made money from microtransactions and the sale of virtual goods such as costumes and weapons.

It was not immediately clear if the data theft included data from players of Sony games including "PoxNora," "Dungeon Overlord" and "Wildlife Refuge" on Facebook.

The company has not indicated whether it identified a culprit in the intrusion.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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