Sony hackers hit up to 250,000 Irish users in data theft
AS MANY as 250,000 Irish people may have had their credit card numbers and other sensitive information stolen following one of the world's largest data thefts.
Sony Ireland has been given 48 hours by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner to disclose the risk posed to its Irish customers by an online break-in to the company's PlayStation Network more than a week ago.
The personal details of more than 77 million PlayStation customers worldwide were believed to have been accessed in the attack, including players' names, dates of birth, email, passwords and addresses.
The PlayStation Network allows gamers to play and purchase games over the web and is offered free to PlayStation customers. Irish experts are warning that the data stolen could lead to criminals accessing bank accounts and stealing users' identities.
IT security specialist Dermot Williams said while Sony still hadn't revealed exactly what information was accessed in the breach, the consequences could be serious.
"You may not think that losing access to your Sony account is a problem but you'll definitely miss the money in your bank account," Mr Williams told the Irish Independent last night.
"People will rightly be concerned at the breadth of their personal data which may now be in the hands of an unknown hacker."
Mr Williams said the fact that Sony had chosen to shut down its online service indicated that the intrusion, and scale of data theft, could be very significant.
"This wasn't vandalism, this was organised commercial theft. There are gangs, mostly based in Eastern Europe, who go after opportunities in organised fraud online. They have very sophisticated skills for this type of thing," Mr Williams said.
The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner told the Irish Independent last night that it had discussed the theft with Sony Ireland and was expecting a report from the company before tomorrow.
The spokeswoman said that the commissioner was "concerned about the breach".
Meanwhile, Mr Williams has advised Irish PlayStation Network users to change the passwords they use on all their online services, such as bank accounts and emails.