Last updated: May 15, 2011 10:48 pm

Sony begins restoring PlayStation Network

Sony said it would restore the core functions of its PlayStation Network and other online services, three weeks after a hacker infiltrated a customer database containing personal information on tens of millions of people.

The Japanese technology group said on Sunday that PSN users in the US, Europe and other regions would be able to access their accounts and play online games with networked PlayStation3 consoles, the first steps in a phased restoration of services that it hopes to complete by May 31.

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Partial restoration of Sony’s Music Unlimited music streaming service and Sony Online Entertainment, a separate internet-based gaming platform, were also planned for Sunday.

Sony had initially hoped to restore the 77m-member PSN a week ago, but efforts to improve its security in the wake of the hacker attack took longer than expected.

The company has added new firewalls, encryption and monitoring systems and plans to move the entire customer database to a new location with more secure servers.

“We are taking aggressive action at all levels to address the concerns that were raised by this incident and are making consumer data protection a full-time, company-wide commitment,” Kazuo Hirai, head of Sony’s gaming business, said in a statement on Sunday.

The still unidentified hacker gained access to the names, addresses and network passwords of all PSN users.

Credit card information for about 10m users was also stored on the database, though it remains uncertain whether the hacker was able to penetrate deeply enough to steal it.

Sony said it had appointed Fumiaki Sakai, president of Sony Global Solutions, a business technology unit of the Sony group, as acting chief information security officer of the PlayStation division.

Sony created the new CISO role as one of its responses to the hacker attack.

Sir Howard Stringer, Sony chief executive, was forced to apologise recently to its customers for the “inconvenience and concern” caused by the attack.

“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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