In a statement posted today on the official Playstation blog, Nick Caplin, the head of Sony’s European communications, confirmed that the Playstation Network has been breached by hackers and personal information from 77 million gamers may have been stolen.
The news comes as a culmination of a sustained period of un-explained down-time that has effected the network since last Wednesday, with Caplin stating that Sony ‘have discovered that between April 17 and April 19 2011, Playstation Network user account information was compromised in connection with an illegal and unauthorised intrusion.’
Mr Caplin continued to list the seriousness of the breach saying that, ‘your profile data, including purchase history, billing address and Playstation Network password security answers may have been obtained [and] while there is no evidence that credit card data was taken at this time, we cannot rule out the possibility. To be on the safe side we are advising you that your credit card number and expiration date may also have been obtained.’
The incident is being seen as a total PR disaster for Sony, with Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at security firm Sophos stating:
‘This is a big one. The Playstation Network is a real consumer product. It is in lots of homes all over the world. The impact could be greater than your typical Internet hack. People will use the same passwords on other sites. If I was a hacker right now, I would be taking those e-mail addresses and trying those passwords.’
The seriousness of the hack and the delayed reaction time of Sony in letting users know about the theft of their personal information has also led to a titanic backlash of anger from its userbase, with comments in the Sony blog reading:
‘You waited a week to tell us our personal information was compromised? That should have been said last Thursday.’
‘This update is about 6 days late. I think it is time to move to the other network, no regard for customers here.’
As of today, the Sony Playstation Network remains down and inaccessible by its users. In addition, Sony has not released any information about when the service will be restored to functionality.