Business Technology

Friday 15 November 2019

PlayStation hack: Sir Howard Stringer apologises

The letter contains Sir Howard Stringer's first public comments on the huge security breach. Photo: Getty Images
The letter contains Sir Howard Stringer's first public comments on the huge security breach. Photo: Getty Images

Christopher Williams

Sir Howard Stringer, the British-born chief executive of Sony, has personally apologised for the theft by hackers of more than 100 million customers' personal details from the firm's online gaming services.

In a letter posted on the PlayStation blog last night he apologised for the "inconvenience and concern" caused by the security breach.

"As a company we - and I - apologize for the inconvenience and concern caused by this attack," he said.

The open letter contains his first public comments on the crisis, which began when Sony detected an intrusion on the PlayStation Network on 19 April. Observers had begun to question Sir Howard's leadership.

"Let me assure you that the resources of this company have been focused on investigating the entire nature and impact of the cyber-attack we’ve all experienced and on fixing it," he told customers.

The PlayStation Network, from which the hackers stole 77 million users' personal details, has now been offline for more than two weeks.

Sony Online Entertainment, a PC gaming service, was shut down on Sunday after investigations revealed it had also been breached and a further 25 million users' security had been compromised.

Customers and US politicians have criticised Sony for the week-long delay between its detection of the PlayStation Network breach and its first public disclosure of the incident, but Sir Howard defended the firm.

"I know some believe we should have notified our customers earlier than we did. It’s a fair question," he said.

"As soon as we discovered the potential scope of the intrusion, we shut down the PlayStation Network and Qriocity services and hired some of the best technical experts in the field to determine what happened. I wish we could have gotten the answers we needed sooner, but forensic analysis is a complex, time-consuming process."

Sir Howard reiterated that so far no evidence of credit card fraud or identity theft as a result of the breach has been discovered.

He also promised that US customers would each be covered by a $1m identity theft insurance policy and said "announcements for other regions will be coming soon".

The letter to customers follows a missive from Kazuo Hirai, the chairman of Sony, to a US Congressional Committee that asked a series of questions about the breach. He revealed that the hackers left a file implicating Anonymous, the online activist collective.

At the time of the data thefts, Sony was also under denial of service attacks by Anonymous, sparked when it sued the man who reverse-engineered the PlayStation 3 to allow it to run unauthorised software. Anonymous has denied involvement in what it referred to as "credit card theft", however.

"In the last few months, Sony has faced a terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan," Sir Howard said.

"But now we are facing a very man-made event – a criminal attack on us — and on you — and we are working with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies around the world to apprehend those responsible."

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