On Sunday Sony executives bowed in apology for a security breach in the company’s PlayStation Network that compromised the personal data of some 77 million user accounts. Kazuo Hirai, chief of Sony Corp.’s PlayStation video game unit, said parts of the service would be back this week and that the company would increase security measures, and promised that the company’s network services were under a basic review to prevent a recurrence. He also said the FBI and other authorities had been contacted to start an investigation into what the company called “a criminal cyber attack” on Sony’s data center in San Diego, California.
Sony said account information, including names, birth dates, email addresses and login information, was compromised for players using its PlayStation Network. Hirai asked all users to change their passwords, and noted that even though it had no direct evidence the data were even taken, it cannot rule out the possibility. He said data from 10 million credit cards were believed to be involved, and that Sony still does not know whether information was stolen or not.
Sony has now added software monitoring and enhanced data protection and encryption as new security measures, and will offer complimentary downloads and 30 days of free service worldwide. The network, which serves both the PlayStation video game machines and Sony’s Qriocity movie and music services, has been shut down since April 20. It is a system that links gamers worldwide in live play, and also allows users to upgrade and download games and other content. Hirai said Sony suspected it was under attack by hackers starting April 17.
According to Sony, of the 77 million PlayStation Network accounts, about 36 million are in the U.S. and elsewhere in the Americas, while 32 million are in Europe and 9 million in Asia, mostly in Japan. Pressure is mounting on Sony to restore services and compensate players. U.S. lawmakers have sent a letter to Hirai demanding answers by May 6 about the security breach and Sony’s response. Hirai said he had read the online version of the letter and would answer the questions as soon as possible.
Last month, U.S. lawyers filed a lawsuit against Sony on behalf of Kristopher Johns for negligent protection of personal data and failure to inform players in a timely fashion that their credit card information may have been stolen. The lawsuit seeks class-action status. Hirai said the network problems would not hurt or delay Sony’s product plans, which includes an upgrade to the PlayStation Portable and a gradual global rollout of the Qriocity service. Hirai denied Sony had purposely held off on releasing information about network problems, a criticism that some have expressed. He also said the service was shut down to prevent damage, and that time was needed to find out what had happened and who was responsible.