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Sony Tries to Make Amends for PlayStation Hack

May 2, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP

The head of Sony is apologizing for last month's massive PlayStation Network breach, which may have exposed the personal information - including credit card information - for millions of PlayStation Network and Qriocity users.  The company is also trying to make amends for the PlayStation hack and resulting network outages by offering network users freebies.

The PlayStation Network data breach occurred between April 17 and April 19, with Sony reportedly learning of the hack on the 19th.   Users of the network weren't informed of the breach until last Tuesday, however, with Sony claiming it wasn't aware of its severity until Monday.

The information that may have been put at risk by the PlayStation Network hack includes customer names, addresses, e-mail addresses, birthdays, PlayStation Network and Qriocity passwords, and user names, as well as online user handles, and possibly credit card related data.  Because of the breach, both the PlayStation Network and Qriocity have been shut down since April 20.

Yesterday, Kaz Hirai, executive deputy president of Sony Corporation, apologized for the problem, saying it was a "highly sophisticated attack by a skilled intruder."  Sony said customers would receive compensation in the form of free downloadable content and a free subscription to the PlayStation Plus enhanced online premium service. Sony says customers will receive a month's free subscription to PlayStation Plus. Existing subscribers to PlayStation Plus and Qriocity will get an extra month of free service.

“This criminal act against our network had a significant impact not only on our consumers, but our entire industry, said Hirai, "These illegal attacks obviously highlight the widespread problem with cyber-security.

Hirai added that Sony employees have been working around the clock to restore the PlayStation and Qriocity networks. The services should return beginning later this week, with online gaming, access to unexpired movie rentals likely to be the first services to return to PSN.  Users of Qriocity streaming media service will be able to access Music on Demand. Other functions will return closer to mid-May.

Sony is facing increased criticism over the breach.  A House of Representatives subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade has sent Hirai a letter, asking why it took Sony until April 26 to inform network users of the hack.  It also questions why the company does not believe credit card information was stolen.  Hirai has until May 6 to respond.

“Sony's public statements suggest there is no evidence credit card data was taken, but such a scenario cannot be ruled out," the letter said. "Given the amount and nature of the personal information known to have been taken, the potential harm that could be caused if credit card information was also taken would be quite significant."

Sony has insisted that all credit card information was contained in an encrypted database, making it safe.  But as we reported previously, the New York Times said on Friday that security specialist were seeing discussions on underground Internet forums indicating that the hackers had accessed personal information, including credit card information, for more than 2 million users.  They may be trying to sell the information for as much as $100,000.

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