The PlayStation Network has been down since last Wednesday, when attackers walked off with personal information of 77 million members.
Sony's PlayStation Network has been
down for nearly a week, and the company finally admitted that an
unauthorized person had stolen personal information belonging to 77 million
An attacker gained "illegal" access to
personal information stored on both the PlayStation Network and the Qriocity
online music and video service, Sony announced on its blog on April 26
information included names, addresses, log-in and password credentials,
password security answers, email addresses, and birth dates. User purchase
history and credit card information may also have been compromised.
"While there is no evidence at this
time that credit card data was taken, we cannot rule out the possibility,"
Patrick Seybold, senior director of corporate communications and social media,
wrote on the company blog. The message was also emailed to account holders.
The breach may also impact minors, as
PSN account holders can authorize a "sub-account" for dependents. Account
details belonging to those dependents were also breached, Sony said.
The PlayStation Network (which provides
access to online games, movies and TV shows) and Qriocity were compromised
sometime between April 17 and April 19 after an external intrusion into the
network. Sony temporarily turned off both services to prevent any more attacks.
Users were left in the dark for six
days about the reason for the lengthy outage or about when services would be reinstated.
"Some services" should be restored
within a week, according to Seybold. He did not specify which ones would be
available first. Users should change their log-ins and passwords when the
system is restored.
"This is a huge data breach,"
Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter told Reuters. The bigger issue
facing Sony is how the attacker will use the stolen information. Pachter
estimated Sony generates nearly $500 million in annual revenue from the
Engineers were rebuilding the system
to strengthen the
infrastructure from future attacks, Seybold wrote on April 23. "Though this
task is time-consuming, we decided it was worth the time necessary to provide
the system with additional security," Seybold said.
Sony has also engaged an "outside,
recognized security firm to conduct a full and complete investigation" into
what happened. In addition, Sony has reported the breach to a San Diego office
of the FBI. The company has steadfastly refused to provide any details as to
what caused the breach.
The company has said that Sony
engineers are working around to clock to resolve the problem, but the team is
focusing on implementing a long-term fix instead of just rushing out a patch.
Users should be careful about online
scammers trying to trick them into revealing more personal information. "Sony
will not contact you in any way, including by email, asking for your credit
card number, Social Security number or other personally identifiable
information," Seybold said, adding, "If you are asked for this information, you
can be confident Sony is not the entity asking."
At least one member of Congress is not
satisfied with the time it took Sony to communicate with its users. The six-day
delay was "troubling," Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut wrote in an April
26 letter to Jack Tretton, president of Sony Computer Entertainment.
"Although the breach occurred
nearly a week ago, Sony has not notified customers of the intrusion, or
provided information that is vital to allowing individuals to protect
themselves from identity theft, such as informing users whether their personal
or financial information may have been compromised," he wrote. "Nor
has Sony specified how it intends to protect these consumers."
Affected PlayStation Network users
should be provided with free financial data security services, identity theft
insurance and credit monitoring services for two years, Blumenthal said. At the
moment, Sony has only provided information about the three credit monitoring
bureaus and encouraged affected users to sign up to have a "fraud alert" placed
on their account for free.
When PSN first went offline, many
initially speculated that the hacktivist organization Anonymous
had launched a
distributed-denial-of-service attack against the company to protest the lawsuit
against the PS3 hacker George Hotz
. While it was possible
that individual hackers had targeted the network, Sony was not an official
target, Anonymous said on AnonNews. "For once we didn't do it,
" the group said.