Sega is the latest in a growing list of video game companies to be hacked [AFP]

Japan's Sega Corp has become the latest victim of hacking by cyber criminals, joining a growing list of video game companies that have been attacked.

The company sent an email to users of the Sega Pass system on Friday warning that their personal information, including email addresses, dates of birth, and passwords, had been stolen from the company's online database.

The company declared, however, that no financial information was at risk.

"Please note that no personal payment information was stored by Sega as we use external payment providers, meaning your payment details were not at risk from this intrusion," the company said.

Sega shut down the Pass network on Thursday, shortly after learning of the breach. A note on its website says that the system is "undergoing improvements", but does not provide a timeline for when it will come back online.

One of the largest video game console makers in the 1990s, Sega has more recently trailed behind giants such as Sony and Nintendo. It stopped developing new products for the the console market in 2001, concentrating instead on developing games for other platforms.

Series of breaches

This is the latest in a series of breaches on video game companies. In April, Sony Corp, the maker of the PlayStation platform, was hacked and the account information of more than 100 million users was compromised in what became the largest cyber-leak of data outside the financial industry.

Hackers belonging to a group called Lulz Security, who claimed responsibility for the Sony and Nintendo attacks as well as for hacking the US Senate's computer system and the CIA website, have offered to assist Sega in tracking down the perpetrators of the attack against it.

A tweet from Lulz hinted that its leaders might count themselves among a small but highly loyal group of gamers who still play on the aging Dreamcast console.

"Sega - contact us," Lulz said in its tweet to the video game developer. "We want to help you destroy the hackers that attacked you. We love the Dreamcast, these people are going down."

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies