May 2, 2011

PlayStation Online Services To Resume This Week

Sony executives apologized for a massive data breach at a news conference in Tokyo Sunday, Reuters reports. This was the first public comment from senior management on the data intrusion of several million PlayStation Network accounts.

As a precaution after the security break-in was revealed, all PlayStation Network accounts were suspended for several days while the extent of the damage was assessed.

Sony said it would resume some services this week and offer incentives to customers in hopes of stemming a growing call for injured account holders to switch to the Microsoft XBox online games after the theft of credit card numbers and personal identity information, according to BBC News.

Many PlayStation users are angered by the fact that the first warning of one of the largest internet security break-ins came a week after Sony detected a problem with the network on April 19.

The news was released just hours after Sony unveiled its first tablet computers at an event where executives made no mention of the issue. Sunday's news sparked thousands of comments on the official PlayStation fan page on Facebook.

"We apologize deeply for causing great unease and trouble to our users," Kazuo Hirai, Sony's second in command and the front-runner to succeed CEO Howard Stringer, said, bowing deeply three times during a lengthy news conference. Stringer was not at the event.

Free content, including 30 days of free membership to a premium service to existing users is being offered as compensation. In some regions, Sony will pay credit card-renewal fees, but only if users suffered damage, Reuters reported.

Users have been asked to change their passwords, and are recommended by Sony to "review account statements and to monitor credit card purchase history to protect against possible identity theft or other financial loss."

However Sony explained there was no evidence that credit card information had actually been stolen but it has confirmed the theft of names and addresses.

Security has since been enhanced on Sony's computer systems, the company said, with enhanced levels of data protection and encryption being implemented. The FBI has been asked to probe the breach, Sony added.

Kazutaka Oshima, president of Rakuten Investment Management, tells Reuters, "The negative impact on Sony is likely to be short-term, but the industry as a whole will suffer a longer-term impact. I think it will impact Amazon and other e-commerce businesses. Sony might have had some security problems but I don't think they had a particularly big hole."

An embarrassed Hirai explained that Sony first wanted to know what kind of information had been stolen, after accusations Sony was slow to inform users of the intrusion.

"As a video gamer myself, this data theft is especially worrying and I'm not altogether surprised that Sony are likely to see an exodus to console competitors," said Mark Pearson, chairman of CouponCodes4U, to

"Sony has a responsibility to its millions of customers to protect personal details and this data theft proves that they weren't capable of doing so.

"It's clear that gamers across the country have decided that this failing is enough to switch their allegiances to the console's closest rival," Pearson added. Sony is being sued in a US court by gamers who have accused it of being negligent and breaching its contracts with PlayStation Network users.

Analysts say Sony, already reeling from the impact on production of Japan's March 11 earthquake, faces costs in beefing up security and compensating consumers. Its shares fell more than 8 percent in Tokyo trade last week. The breach is also the latest test for Hirai, a longtime executive credited with expanding the firm's PlayStation Network system.


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