Sony battles further hacker attacks

Sony’s battle with computer hackers is spreading from its US-based PlayStation Network to business units globally, as the Japanese group acknowledged three new attacks on Wednesday.

Sony customers in Canada, Thailand and Indonesia had their personal information targeted in the latest incidents the company said. It added that it did not know whether the attacks were connected to the theft last month of information belonging to 100m users of the PlayStation online game network and other internet-based services.

The company said it had taken down a website run by Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications in Canada, through which intruders had obtained names and e-mail addresses of about 2,000 customers.

A Sony web site in Thailand was meanwhile used in a “phishing” attack, in which cyber criminals attempt to lure people into entering sensitive information such as credit card numbers into fake or hijacked sites. Sony said it had received no reports of information being stolen, and that it had taken down the site.

A Sony Music web site in Indonesia was also subject to “unauthorised access”, but in this case too there was no sign that information had been obtained, Sony said.

The attacks followed a breach on a Sony Music site in Greece, in which information on 8,500 customers was stolen.

Sony has said there is no evidence that the hackers obtained credit card data, or that any stolen information has been used in crimes.

Sony has struggled to bring the PlayStation network back online since hackers penetrated its customer database in April. On Monday the company said it expected the security breach to cost it Y14bn this fiscal year, excluding the potential cost of compensating customers should they fall victim to identity theft.

The company on Monday also reported a surprise Y260bn ($3.18bn) full-year net loss on a Y360bn one-off tax charge and warned the effects of Japan’s March earthquake and tsunami could do lasting damage to its domestic moneymaking ability.

Sony has attracted the attention of Anonymous, a group of activist computer hackers, following a lawsuit by the company against a hacker who modified his PlayStation game console.

Anonymous has denied responsibility for the PlayStation Network breach, and Sony has not accused it of direct involvement. But people inside the group say the attacks may be connected to its loosely-co-ordinated efforts to disrupt Sony services.

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