Experts Say Epic Sony PlayStation Network Breach Is Just The Beg - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Experts Say Epic Sony PlayStation Network Breach Is Just The Beginning Of Giant Data Thefts

NEW YORK - Howard Stringer, the CEO of Sony, apologized to customers Thursday for the "inconvenience and concern" caused by an attack on Sony's computing system last month that compromised the private data of more than 100 million customers and prompted the company to shut down several of its services. "I know this has been a frustrating time for all of you," he wrote in a letter posted on Sony's PlayStation blog Thursday night. "We are absolutely dedicated to restoring full and safe service as soon as possible and rewarding you for your patience."

The "frustrating time" that Stringer referred to began on April 20, when members of the network team at Sony Network Entertainment America discovered that there had been an "unauthorized intrusion" into their systems. As Kazuo Hirai, Sony's executive deputy president, wrote this week in response to questions from a congressional subcommittee, the network team found evidence that a hacker, or hackers, had "transferred" data off the PlayStation Network, a service that connects users of the video-game device to each other, to Sony and to outside companies like Netflix.

There had been a theft, in other words. Sony shut down the PlayStation Network system and the media-streaming service Qriocity, which had also been hacked, and began what Hirai called "the exhaustive and highly sophisticated process" of assessing the damage.

After a six-day period of silence that had customers seething with frustration on message boards and blogs and in the press, Sony said that the intruders had stolen passwords and other information from some 77 million accounts. This was later revised to over 100 million accounts, 12 million of them containing unencrypted credit card numbers. More than two weeks after the breach, millions of PlayStation customers are still waiting for the network to come back online, and the identity of the hackers remains unknown.

Very little is known about the theft so far, at least outside of Sony. Aside from Hirai's letter to Congress and his appearance at a press conference in Tokyo on Sunday, Sony has resisted discussing what happened, citing concerns about an ongoing investigation.

Sony and the three security firms whose services it has enlisted to get to the bottom of the theft -- Guidance Software, Protivity, and Data Forte -- declined to comment on the case.

Yet the breach ranks as one of the biggest in history, and its sheer scope raises questions with far-reaching implications, not just for the millions of people who play games or download movies on Sony's PlayStation Network but for anyone who's ever recorded personal information on the Internet.  >>>CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

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