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Sony PlayStation Network hit by massive data breach

David Ludlow
27 Apr 2011
Sony PlayStation Network hit by massive data breach
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Millions of personal details and credit card details could have been stolen.

Gamers on the PlayStation Network had been wondering why the service had been down so long, but they didn't expect the answer to be because their private details were at risk from a massive hacker attack.

Sadly, that's exactly what happened today when Sony broke radio silence to inform its customers that the PlayStation Network and Qriocity services had been breached by a hacker, who likely stole people's personal identities. It's also possible that credit card details have been stolen, although Sony has yet to confirm this.

"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," said Sony on its PlayStation Blog.

"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."

Considering that the PlayStation Network as around 77m users, this breach of data is shocking, far-reaching and potentially very costly. It's also likely to hit Sony's credibility and cause the company a lot of damage to its brand, to put it mildly.

Sony has warned its customers to be extremely vigilant over email, phone and other scams, with the hackers set to use the abundance of data they've got to try and extract money from people with breached accounts.

If you're a PlayStation Network customer it's worth keeping an eye on your credit card transactions to see if there are any unauthorised payments. If you've got a spare credit card that you can use in the meantime, it may be worth cancelling the card you registered with the PlayStation Network to prevent any fraud. There's still the risk of identity theft associated with your personal details being stolen. The Guardian has a good guide on the steps you should take and what your rights are.

Sony has said that it's working on the problem and that both the PlayStation Network and Qriocity services will be offline until the security issues have been addressed. This could take as long as week to fix; the company's reputation could take longer.

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