Bloomberg News

Sony Says It’s Investigating Two New Possible Hacker Attacks

June 07, 2011

(Updates with comment from analyst in fourth paragraph.)

June 7 (Bloomberg) -- Sony Corp., targeted since April by hacker attacks that have compromised more than 100 million customer accounts, is investigating two new possible intrusions.

The company suspended its Brazilian music entertainment website while it looks into a possible breach, it said today. Sony also is investigating a hacker group’s claim that it stole data related to the company’s game operation.

Sony fell in Tokyo trading, extending declines amid attacks that the company has said may cost 14 billion yen ($174 million) this year. Japan’s largest exporter of consumer electronics reported the new attacks two days after saying hackers had broken into its European unit’s website. No customer information was accessed during that intrusion, Sony said yesterday.

“Sony may face a bigger expense to strengthen its security system if these hacking issues are prolonged,” said Hideki Yasuda, a Tokyo-based analyst at Ace Securities Co., with a “neutral” rating on the company’s shares. “The company’s brand image may suffer, pressuring sales.”

Sony dropped 1.5 percent to 2,031 yen at the 3 p.m. close of trading in Tokyo, reaching the lowest since March 2009 and extending its loss this year to 31 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average gained 0.7 percent today.

The possible attack on Sony’s Brazilian website may have altered some content, Tomio Takizawa, a spokesman for the Tokyo- based company, said by phone today without elaborating.

LulzSec Claim

Separately, a group called LulzSec posted statements online yesterday saying it broke into Sony Computer Entertainment’s system to obtain developer network information. Sony is investigating the claim, Satoshi Fukuoka, a company spokesman, said today by phone.

“It’s like a cat-and-mouse game,” Naoki Fujiwara, chief fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management Co., said of the repeated attacks, which also targeted Kyoto-based game maker Nintendo Co. on May 16. Companies like Sony and Nintendo will be forced to increase security costs for their online business, he said.

Sony said yesterday no protected data was accessed during the attack on its European website, which was discovered June 5.

Nintendo, the world’s largest maker of handheld video-game players, said yesterday a server attacked May 16 didn’t contain consumer information.

PlayStation Network Outage

LulzSec posted data on the Internet that it said was a “server configuration file,” or data for programming purposes, from a Nintendo server, the Wall Street Journal reported June 5.

LulzSec posted statements online earlier this month saying it broke into the website of Sony’s film unit and downloaded personal information including passwords, e-mail addresses and dates of birth from 1 million user accounts. Sony is investigating whether customer information was compromised during that intrusion, Mami Imada, a Tokyo-based spokeswoman, said by phone yesterday.

Sony resumed full operation last week of the PlayStation Network in the U.S. and Europe after suspending it for six weeks because of hacker attacks.

Jack Tretton, chief executive officer of Sony Computer Entertainment America, apologized yesterday “for any anxiety” online customers may have suffered because of the outage. Speaking at the E3 video-game trade show in Los Angeles, Tretton also acknowledged that game developers lost money during the shutdown.

The attack on the Brazilian website was reported earlier by Kyodo News. The latest possible intrusion by LulzSec was reported earlier by Reuters.

--With assistance from Yoshinori Eki, Yuki Yamaguchi and Maki Shiraki in Tokyo. Editors: Terje Langeland, Dave McCombs

To contact the reporter on this story: Mariko Yasu in Tokyo at myasu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Young-Sam Cho at ycho2@bloomberg.net


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