Hackers access millions of PlayStation users′ personal data | Science| In-depth reporting on science and technology | DW | 27.04.2011
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Hackers access millions of PlayStation users' personal data

Hackers have breached the online network of the PlayStation 3 videogame console, endangering the personal data of millions. Sony has shut down the network in response to what could be the largest such online heist ever.

People playing Sony PlayStation 3

Millions of users' personal data have been jeopardized

Hackers have compromised the online network of the Sony PlayStation 3 videogame console, jeopardizing the privacy of the network's 75 million users, according to the Sony Corporation.

An unknown person hacked into the PlayStation Network as well as the music service Qriocity, accessing the names, addresses, e-mails and birthdates of network users.

Sony warned that, although it had no indication credit card numbers had been stolen, it could not rule out the possibility.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we are advising you that your credit card number and expiry date may have been obtained," Patrick Seybold, a company spokesperson, wrote on the official PlayStation blog on Tuesday.

According to Alan Paller, research director of the SANS Institute, the breach may be the largest theft of identity data information in history.

Sony has shut down the PlayStation Network after discovering that hackers had entered the system between April 17 and 19. Sony has not said when the network will be online again.

The network was launched in 2006 and offers games, music and movies to people who own the PlayStation 3 videogame console.

Blow to business

Magnifying glass inspecting credit card

Sony says it cannot rule out the possibility that credit card information was stolen

The security breach comes as a blow to Sony, which is set to release a new hand-held gaming device called the Next Generation Portable at the end of the year.

"It's a red flag to a lot of people as to how Sony conducts its business," said Sue Cato, the head of the corporate communication advisers Cato Counsel in Sydney.

"This will have regulators concerned about security, it will have consumer organizations concerned, it will have some gamers concerned."

Culprit unknown

Sony has not indicated whether or not it has identified who is responsible for the security breach.

However, Michael Pachter, a Wedbush Morgan videogame industry analyst, suspects the hacker was more interested in showing off than in stealing personal data.

"Sony is a target because gamers tend to be more software sophisticated," Pachter told the Agence France Presse. "If you are a real cyber criminal trying to profit, you go where the money is, not to the PlayStation Network where the average user is a teenager."

Author: Spencer Kimball (Reuters, dpa, AFP)
Editor: Rob Turner

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