Bloomberg News

Sony Halts 93,000 Online Accounts After Unauthorized Access

October 12, 2011

(Updates with analyst’s comments in fourth paragraph.)

Oct. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Sony Corp., the world’s second- largest maker of video-game machines, temporarily suspended about 93,000 user accounts of its online gaming and entertainment services after finding they were hacked.

“A massive number” of unauthorized attempts were detected between Oct. 7 and Oct. 10, Sony spokesman Satoshi Fukuoka said. The efforts included usernames and passwords that matched 93,000 accounts, including at least 35,000 in the U.S. and 24,000 in Europe, he said. Personal information, including home addresses, in some accounts may have been compromised, he said.

Customers haven’t complained and credit card information hasn’t been leaked, Fukuoka said. The suspensions come three months after the maker of PlayStation game consoles resumed online services following hacker attacks in April that compromised more than 100 million customer accounts, the second- largest online data breach in U.S. history.

“The bitter memory of the April attack still lingers,” said Nobuo Kurahashi, an analyst at Mizuho Financial Group Inc. in Tokyo who rates Sony stock “neutral.” “Asking customers to change passwords will probably cause inconveniences and concerns.”

Intruders

Sony, Japan’s largest exporter of consumer electronics, plans to e-mail users of the suspended accounts asking them to change their passwords, it said in a statement. The intruders probably used passwords and user names that are set for other companies’ services, Sony said in the statement.

“The number of accounts that were actually broken into by intruders is probably only a small portion of those that we suspended,” Fukuoka said. The affected accounts comprise less than 0.1 percent of the customers using Sony’s online services, he said.

Sony rose 1.4 percent to close at 1,517 yen in Tokyo trading. The stock has plummeted 48 percent this year, compared with a 16 percent decline for the broader Topix index.

Chairman Howard Stringer apologized in May and offered U.S. users of its PlayStation Network and Qriocity online services a year of free identity-theft protection after the system was crippled by hackers.

The Tokyo-based company was then criticized by U.S. lawmakers for not informing users of the breach quickly enough.

Sony said in May the earlier attacks also gave hackers access to data from Sony Online Entertainment, which offers role-playing games. That exposed 23,400 credit-card and debit records from non-U.S. customers, and the personal account information of 24.6 million account holders.

The company had budgeted 14 billion yen ($182 million) in costs after the April hacker attacks.

--With assistance from Takashi Amano in Tokyo. Editors: Anand Krishnamoorthy, Michael Tighe

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net


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