Sun, May 08, 2011 - Page 11 News List

Sony removes data posted by hackers

SMASH AND GRAB:The hackers have not been identified, but Internet vigilante group Anonymous, which has admitted previous attacks, denied it was behind the data theft

Reuters, TOKYO

Sony said yesterday it had removed from the Internet the names and partial addresses of 2,500 sweepstakes contestants that were stolen by hackers from about 100 million user accounts on its PlayStation Network and PC-based online gaming services. A company statement said that details posted on the inactive Web site also included three -unconfirmed e-mail addresses.

The data came from customers who entered a 2001 product sweepstakes contest. The list did not include information on credit cards, social security numbers or passwords.

“The Web site was out of date and inactive when discovered as part of the continued attacks on Sony,” Sony said, adding that the company took the Web site down shortly after finding out about the postings on Thursday.

Sony chief executive officer Howard Stringer apologized on Friday to users of the firm’s PlayStation Network and other online services, breaking his silence on the massive data breach.

The company said last Sunday that it would begin restoring services within the week, but a spokeswoman said yesterday this would not be possible, and that no date had been fixed for when services would resume.

The incident could prove to be a significant setback for a company looking to recover after being out maneuvered by Apple in portable music and Samsung Electronics in flat-screen TVs.

In video games, it faces a tough fight with Nintendo’s Wii game console and Microsoft’s Xbox.

“This wait is becoming so tedious. I know there needs to be a lot of testing, but it is really getting annoying. I am seriously -considering changing to the Xbox,” said a -message posted by a user called Cryonic UCX on the US PlayStation blog. “I LOVE my PlayStation, but Sony is not doing well in the online. Sony, you need to step your game up.”

On Friday, Sony shares ended 2.3 percent lower in a broader market, extending the company’s total losses to about 6 percent since it revealed the breach. The Nikkei has risen about 3 percent in the same period.

Sony issued its first warning on the PlayStation break-in a week after it detected a problem with the network on April 19, infuriating many users around the world. Sony said it needed time to work out the extent of the damage.

The hackers have not been identified, but Internet vigilante group Anonymous, which had claimed responsibility for previous attacks on Sony and other corporations, denied it was behind the data theft.

Sony, which is set to report its annual earnings on May 26, has yet to specify the financial effect of the network breach.

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