Oops… Sony Network hacked… personal data stolen…

Electronics giant Sony has admitted millions of PlayStation network gamers may have had their personal details stolen. A hacker broke into the PlayStation video game online network and stole names, addresses and possibly credit card data belonging to 77 million people. It is believed to be one of the biggest-ever internet security breaches of its kind. Sony learned of the breach on April 19 and immediately shut down the PlayStation network, but kept quiet about it for a whole week.

In a blog post, Sony warns that hackers have been able to access a variety of personal information belonging to users including:
* Name
* Address (city, state, zip code)
* Country
* Email address
* Date of birth
* PlayStation Network/Qriocity password and login
* Handle/PSN online ID

In addition, Sony warns that profile information – such as your history of past purchases and billing address, as well as the “secret answers” you may have given Sony for password security may also have been obtained.

The shutdown of the PlayStation network prevented owners of the video game console from buying and downloading games as well as playing with rivals over the internet. The breach is a major setback for Sony. Although video game hardware and software sales have declined globally, the PlayStation franchise has been a steady seller and is one of its key products. The company said there was no evidence credit card numbers were stolen but warned users it could not rule out the possibility. “Out of an abundance of caution, we are advising you that your credit card number (excluding security code) and expiration date may have been obtained,” it said. The fact that credit card details, used on the network to buy games, movies and music, may also have been stolen is obviously very worrying, and affected users would be wise to keep a keen eye on their credit card statements for unexpected transactions. Questions clearly have to be asked as to whether Sony was ignorant of PCI data security standards and storing this and other personal data in an unencrypted format.

Sony, which is part of Sony Corp, said it hoped to restore some of the PlayStation network’s services within a week. The network launched in autumn 2006 and offers games, music and movies to people with PlayStation consoles. It has 77 million registered users.

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