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May 4, 2011

Sony enlists cyber-security experts in hack recovery

by Darren Allan

Matters have gone from bad to worse for Sony this week, as the PSN remains down due to a hacking incident, and it also emerged that the Sony Online Entertainment platform (purveyor of MMORPGs and Facebook games) was also hacked over two weeks ago.

SOE has also been taken offline and remains so, with Sony sending out customer service notifications to those affected. These state that the information gleaned by the hacker included the user’s name, address (city, state, zip, country), email address, gender, birth date, phone number, login name and hashed password.

Hashing being a specific one-way form of encryption, although one which can be brute forced, with results dependant on how secure the user’s original password is.

In other words, if it’s “password” or “robert” it’ll likely be cracked, but a properly secure password with a variation of letters, numbers and other characters might well be pretty safe.

There are no guarantees, of course, and Sony is recommending everyone change their password as soon as the relevant services are back up (and also any passwords which are the same for other accounts, another bad security habit many folks have).

In total over 100 million customer accounts have been compromised, with Sony uncertain whether encrypted credit card details were also made off with.

It is sure, however, that credit cards from an outdated (2007) database comprising of users from outside the US were stolen, some 12,700 of them. Customers who have been affected will be “notified promptly” (hopefully more promptly than Sony discovered this attack).

To deal with the fallout from all this, Sony has enlisted the help of a number of third-party security experts. Reuters reports that Data Forte, Guidance Software and Protiviti are all now involved in the clean-up and pursuit of the cyber-criminals who carried out these acts.

Whether it was the same hacker who broke into SOE as well as PSN isn’t clear.

As we wrote yesterday, heads are likely to roll at Sony, and already there have been calls for the biggest head of them all, Chief Exec Howard Stringer.

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  1. I have had a major problem with Sony Online Entertainment. I played their games since 1999 and I quit in December 2010 because of my Account being stolen.

    Whenever you want any information on your account changed you have to tell the SOE Representative all of your account information including credit cards used etc. Then after you have talked to them a full copy of this is stored in the accounts “Petition History”. Anyone who gains access to the account is able to view this.

    When my account was stolen in December 2010, whoever stole it was able to use my information stored in the peition history to keep my account. I spent over $200 on phone bills to SOE and over 5 hours trying to get my account back. I provided endless amounts of proof of who I am (the owner of the account) and they just never gave me my account back. I was told 3 times that they would return my account to me but they kept me waiting and making me call back (from another country) where they would keep me on the phone for over an hour.

    They assisted a thief to steal my property!!! I spent many years creating what I had, playing many hours daily.

    To top it all off, recently I tried to obtain a basic bank account for my business and I was refused 3 times… and why is that? My credit score is clean? Then I find out I have something marked on my name as Fraud because of Sony Online Entertainment and my stolen game account!!!

    Even though I use to pay this company over $100 every month for many years they have caused nothing but problems for me and I will never play any of their games again.

    Comment by jeanlamour — May 4, 2011 @ 9:00 am

  2. Hey there i need some help…when PSN does come back online, how am i going to change my password? wheni made my account my father used his email as i didn’t have one at the time, but i didnt’t know he used a fake email! so being un-able to verify it’s my account on that email and un-able to change the password on the current system because my original broke down. How do i get back online? i have close friends who have user names that are hard to remember and i really want this account back, if i lost it and no one is able to help me, in anger i would scrap sony due to poor service, sony never lifted a finger to help me last time…but damn i will go to town on this, i will get my account back, and sony are going to help me. thank you.

    Comment by Khi — May 4, 2011 @ 5:04 pm

  3. may the forth be with you sony.

    Comment by Khi — May 4, 2011 @ 5:05 pm

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