Sony CEO apologizes for PlayStation Network hack, announces ID-theft insurance

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Sir Howard Stringer, Sony’s chief executive, president and chairman, issued an apology for the hacking of the PlayStation Network and Qriocity music service, and the resulting outage of both online services since April 20.

In a letter posted on the PlayStation Blog, Stringer also said Sony has put in place a $1-million identity theft insurance policy to cover affected users.


‘I know this has been a frustrating time for all of you,’ Stringer wrote in the first line of his letter posted late Thursday. ‘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.’

Stringer told service subscribers that the company will be ‘rewarding you for your patience.’

‘To date, there is no confirmed evidence any credit card or personal information has been misused, and we continue to monitor the situation closely,’ he wrote. ‘We are also moving ahead with plans to help protect our customers from identity theft around the world.’

The $1-million identity theft insurance plan, which was announced in the letter, only covers U.S. users of the PlayStation Network and Qriocity, but Sony is planning announcements for other regions soon, Stringer wrote.

The PlayStation Network is Sony’s online service which allows PlayStation 3 video game console owners to play online-enabled games with friends, as well as serving as a storefront to buy downloadable games, movies and music. Qriocity is Sony’s subscription-based Web service which allows users to stream music from the cloud.

Sony has announced a ‘Welcome Back’ package for affected users of both services, which is upwards of 90 million people. The package will offer one month of free PlayStation Plus membership for PlayStation Network users and extensions of subscriptions for PlayStation Plus and Qriocity customers ‘to make up for time lost,’ Stringer said.


‘As a company we -- and I -- apologize for the inconvenience and concern caused by this attack,’ he wrote. ‘Under the leadership of Kazuo Hirai, we have teams working around the clock and around the world to restore your access to those services as quickly, and as safely, as possible.’

Stringer also addressed concerns that Sony waited too long to notify customers of what was going on.

After shutting down the Web-based services on April 20, it wasn’t until April 27 that Sony said personal information may have been accessed and on May 1, Sony said as many as 10 million credit card accounts may have been exposed to hackers in the network attack.

‘I know some believe we should have notified our customers earlier than we did,’ Stringer wrote. ‘It’s a fair question. 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. Hackers, after all, do their best to cover their tracks, and it took some time for our experts to find those tracks and begin to identify what personal information had -- or had not -- been taken.’

Stringer said Sony’s investigation into just what happened is still ongoing and that the company is also upgrading its security measures to protect itself from future attacks.

‘In the last few months, Sony has faced a terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan,’ he wrote. ‘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.’


Stringer did not offer an exact date as to when the PlayStation Network or Qriocity would be up and running again, but said it would happen ‘in the coming days.’


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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles