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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

April 26, 2011 at 2:23 PM

Sony PSN update: Maybe back in a week, personal info stolen

Sony provided an update on the PlayStation Network outage that began last week, leaving millions of players and several Seattle-area game studios in the lurch.

The company said “some services” should be restored within a week. In the meantime, users should be extra careful about online scammers trying to obtain more personal information.

Sony shut the network down Wednesday after its security was pierced and an intruder gained access to users’ personal information. In today’s update, it said the intruder obtained users’ passwords, network handles, email, birthdates, billing addresses and security questions.

Credit card info may also have been stolen, according to a message being sent to users. An excerpt:

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.

Sony encourages users to change their logins and passwords when the system is restored. If the same logins and passwords were used elsewhere, they should probably be changed there as well.

Sony hired an outside security firm to investigate what happened and is rebuilding its system to make it more secure.

The shutdown came in the middle of a beta test of “inFamous 2” from Bellevue’s Sucker Punch Productions and just after the launch of “Socom 4: U.S. Navy Seals” from Redmond’s Zipper Interactive.

It’s also a black eye for Sony’s broader effort to develop cloud services, including the Qriocity online music and video service that debuted in the U.S. in February. It may also make buyers of new Web-enabled TVs from Sony and others think twice before connecting the sets to online services and using their remotes to enter credit card numbers.

UPDATE: Sony’s also getting heat for taking so long to disclose that personal information was obtained by the intruder.

The company tried to clarify things with another statement, saying that it learned of the intrusion April 19 and shut down the network, but forensic analysis took several days and it took until April 25 “to understand the scope of the breach.”

Sony’s probably losing sales of about $10 million and profit of $3 million per week the network is down, which isn’t much for an $88 billion company, Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter told Time magazine. But Sony better get it fixed soon.

“They can’t afford to be down longer than another week, because they will start to appear incompetent,” Pachter told the magazine.

Comments | Topics: PlayStation, Sony

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