May 6, 2011 11:54 am

Sony chief in PlayStation hack apology

Sir Howard Stringer, chief executive of Sony, has apologised to its video-gaming customers for the “inconvenience and concern” caused by the attack on its PlayStation Network by hackers.

In a letter posted on a Sony blog, Sir Howard acknowledged criticism that the Japanese electronics company should have reacted more quickly to the breach which put the personal data of millions of people at risk.

“As a company we — and I — apologize for the inconvenience and concern caused by this attack,” Sir Howard said in his first public comments since the attacks two weeks ago, promising that services would be restored “in the coming days”.

Some Sony customers have been dissatisfied with the way the company has handled last month’s hacking attacks and the speed with which it told customers that their credit card details and other personal information could have fallen into the hands of criminals.

PSN, which allows PlayStation3 owners to play online multiplayer games against friends across the internet, and Qriosity, Sony’s cross-platform entertainment service, have now been offline for more than two weeks.

“I know some believe we should have notified our customers earlier than we did. It’s a fair question,” Sir Howard 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.”

He promised that Sony would upgrade its security systems and detailed a promised identity theft protection service for up to 100m affected customers, including $1m worth of insurance cover.

“To date, there is no confirmed evidence any credit card or personal information has been misused, and we continue to monitor the situation closely,” Sir Howard said.

In a separate blog posting, Sony said it was in the “final stages of internal testing” a new system to bring the services back online.

Earlier this week, Sony indicated that it had found evidence that the individuals behind the hack might be related to Anonymous, the internet activist group that had publicly launched a campaign to disrupt Sony services.

Anonymous has previously launched online “denial of service” attacks – whereby a website or server is flooded with more traffic than it can handle – against Scientologists, the Egyptian and Tunisian governments, and perceived corporate opponents of WikiLeaks, the whistleblowing site.

It took on Sony as part of its freewheeling internet-freedom campaign in revenge for its legal pursuit of a gamer who modified his PlayStation console and posted details of the hack online. However, it has denied stealing credit card details of Sony customers.

“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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