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Sony Confirms Massive Data Breach Affecting 70 Million PlayStation Network Users

The PlayStation Network has now been down for an entire week, and in its latest update, Sony admitted that it hopes to have 'some' PSN/Qriocity services restored in a week's time. However, that’s no longer the biggest worry for PSN users. Following a week of virtual silence regarding the consequences of the attack, the company has confirmed previous reports that the intrusion it experienced did result in a significant data breach.

Sony’s Senior Director of Corporate Communications and Social Media, Patrick Seybold, yesterday took to the PlayStation blog to explain that between April 17 - 19, certain PlayStation Network and Qriocity service user account information was compromised in connection with “an illegal and unauthorized intrusion into [Sony’s] network.” The company pulled the plug last Wednesday (April 20) and brought in outside help to investigate the intrusion and determine the scope of the breach.

Sony is currently sending emails to all PSN users detailing the information compromised in the attack. This lengthy letter is embedded below, but for those eager for the ‘quick and dirty’ on what information was exposed, Sony believes that “an unauthorized person has obtained the following information” about PSN users:

  • Name
  • Address (city, state, zip)
  • Country
  • Email address
  • Birthdate
  • PlayStation Network/Qriocity password and login and handle/PSN online ID.

Sony says it’s also possible that your profile data, including purchase history and billing address (city, state, zip), and your PlayStation Network/Qriocity password security answers may have been obtained. If you have a sub-account for someone else in your house, the same data with respect to that account may have been obtained.

Additionally, Sony says that while there is no evidence that credit card data was taken, it can’t be ruled out, either.

“If you have provided your credit card data through PlayStation Network or Qriocity, 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,” the company said in the email to its 70 million users. The email, embedded just below, suggests users request a free credit report and contact a credit bureau to place a “fraud alert” on their cards. However, users should note that doing so could well delay their own ability to obtain credit.

In response to backlash as to why it took Sony so long to inform users that their personal data had been compromised, the company said it took until yesterday for its investigations to reveal the full scope of the breach.


Sony’s email to customers:

We have discovered that between April 17 and April 19, 2011, certain PlayStation Network and Qriocity service user account information was compromised in connection with an illegal and unauthorized intrusion into our network. In response to this intrusion, we have:

  1. Temporarily turned off PlayStation Network and Qriocity services;
  2. Engaged an outside, recognized security firm to conduct a full and complete investigation into what happened; and
  3. Quickly taken steps to enhance security and strengthen our network infrastructure by re-building our system to provide you with greater protection of your personal information.


We greatly appreciate your patience, understanding and goodwill as we do whatever it takes to resolve these issues as quickly and efficiently as practicable.

Although we are still investigating the details of this incident, we believe that an unauthorized person has obtained the following information that you provided: name, address (city, state, zip), country, email address, birthdate, PlayStation Network/Qriocity password and login, and handle/PSN online ID. It is also possible that your profile data, including purchase history and billing address (city, state, zip), and your PlayStation Network/Qriocity password security answers may have been obtained. If you have authorized a sub-account for your dependent, the same data with respect to your dependent may have been obtained. While there is no evidence at this time that credit card data was taken, we cannot rule out the possibility. If you have provided your credit card data through PlayStation Network or Qriocity, 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.

For your security, we encourage you to be especially aware of email, telephone, and postal mail scams that ask for personal or sensitive information. Sony will not contact you in any way, including by email, asking for your credit card number, social security number or other personally identifiable information. If you are asked for this information, you can be confident Sony is not the entity asking. When the PlayStation Network and Qriocity services are fully restored, we strongly recommend that you log on and change your password. Additionally, if you use your PlayStation Network or Qriocity user name or password for other unrelated services or accounts, we strongly recommend that you change them, as well.

To protect against possible identity theft or other financial loss, we encourage you to remain vigilant, to review your account statements and to monitor your credit reports. We are providing the following information for those who wish to consider it:

U.S. residents are entitled under U.S. law to one free credit report annually from each of the three major credit bureaus. To order your free credit report, visitwww.annualcreditreport.com or call toll-free (877) 322-8228.

We have also provided names and contact information for the three major U.S. credit bureaus below. At no charge, U.S. residents can have these credit bureaus place a “fraud alert” on your file that alerts creditors to take additional steps to verify your identity prior to granting credit in your name. This service can make it more difficult for someone to get credit in your name. Note, however, that because it tells creditors to follow certain procedures to protect you, it also may delay your ability to obtain credit while the agency verifies your identity. As soon as one credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, the others are notified to place fraud alerts on your file. Should you wish to place a fraud alert, or should you have any questions regarding your credit report, please contact any one of the agencies listed below.

Experian: 888-397-3742;www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
Equifax: 800-525-6285;www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
TransUnion: 800-680-7289;www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

You may wish to visit the web site of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission atwww.consumer.gov/idtheft or reach the FTC at 1-877-382-4357 or 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580 for further information about how to protect yourself from identity theft. Your state Attorney General may also have advice on preventing identity theft, and you should report instances of known or suspected identity theft to law enforcement, your State Attorney General, and the FTC. For North Carolina residents, the Attorney General can be contacted at 9001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-9001; telephone (877) 566-7226; orwww.ncdoj.gov. For Maryland residents, the Attorney General can be contacted at 200 St. Paul Place, 16th Floor, Baltimore, MD 21202; telephone: (888) 743-0023; orwww.oag.state.md.us.

We thank you for your patience as we complete our investigation of this incident, and we regret any inconvenience. Our teams are working around the clock on this, and services will be restored as soon as possible. Sony takes information protection very seriously and will continue to work to ensure that additional measures are taken to protect personally identifiable information. Providing quality and secure entertainment services to our customers is our utmost priority. Please contact us at 1-800-345-7669 should you have any additional questions.

Sincerely,

Sony Computer Entertainment and Sony Network Entertainment

In an effort to address some of the concerns, comments and frequently asked questions regarding the breach, Sony has posted a FAQ. Check it out here. Among other things, the FAQ details that Sony is currently reviewing its options for those seeking refunds for fees, or subscriptions.