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Anger at Sony after hackers steal PlayStation online user data

posted 27 Apr 2011, 12:59 by Mpelembe   [ updated 27 Apr 2011, 13:01 ]

Gamers express anger at Sony after it warned that the data from 77 million PlayStation user accounts had been stolen, possibly including credit card details.

The announcement from Sony Corp that hackers had stolen names address and possibly credit card details from the 77 million user accounts of its video game online network sparked anger amongst the gaming community on Wednesday (April 27).

The Japanese electronic giant pulled the plug on the network on April 19 after finding out about the breach in its popular PlayStation Network, a service that produces an estimated $500 million (USD) in annual revenues.

Sony did not tell the public about the stolen data until Tuesday, hours after it had unveiled in Japan its first tablet computers.

English gamer Dylan Scott, who ordinarily plays on the PS3 with friends online daily, said the sudden shut-off of the system had already driven away users.

"I think Sony have lost a lot of customers over Easter, already. Obviously there's a lot of children off during the holidays and it's been off for the most part of the second week of the Easter holidays -- if I'm correct -- and that's a lot of money they could have lost on online downloads. So, I think people may defect to the other rivalling systems," he said.

Scott also expressed astonishment at what he felt was a lack of information disclosure from Sony.

"I mean, for the first three days I didn't know what was going on. I wasn't sure if they'd been hacked in to or they'd shut down or…," he said, with a shrug. "I mean, they still haven't told me today. I have had to rely on going on their personal blog and hoping they'll tell me something."

A Sony spokesman said that after learning of the breach it took "several days of forensic investigation" before the company knew consumers' data had been compromised.

The data theft, which ranks as one the biggest, will act as a warning to all companies trading online, said British branding expert Jonathan Gabay.

"I think that people are now going to question all types of companies, all types of brands when it comes to giving details of their data, and it's something that is here to stay -- data is in the cloud, whichever company, whichever brand it is -- it's now time for all the brands to reassure people that they are doing whatever is necessary to do," he said.

Sony's executives made no mention of the network crisis at the tablet launch in Tokyo, when the glossy devices were unveiled, nor at a later briefing with journalists.

The company is the latest Japanese business to come under fire for not disclosing bad news quickly.

Tokyo Electric Power Co was criticized for how it handled the nuclear crisis after the March 11 earthquake. Last year, Toyota Motor Corp was slammed for being less than forthright about problems over a massive vehicle recall.

Sony has hired an "outside recognised security firm" to investigate. It said user account information for the PlayStation Network and its Qriocity service users was compromised between April 17 and April 19.

The Japanese firm declined to comment on whether it was working with law enforcement officials.