Sony to restore PSN services, compensate customers

Head of PlayStation Kaz Hirai says most PlayStation Network services will be back on this week. Customers will get free 30-day service and theft protection monitoring service.

Erica Ogg Former Staff writer, CNET News
Erica Ogg is a CNET News reporter who covers Apple, HP, Dell, and other PC makers, as well as the consumer electronics industry. She's also one of the hosts of CNET News' Daily Podcast. In her non-work life, she's a history geek, a loyal Dodgers fan, and a mac-and-cheese connoisseur.
Erica Ogg
3 min read

Two weeks after Sony's PlayStation Network was hacked Kazuo Hirai, chairman of Sony Computer Entertainment, addressed the issue in a press conference in Tokyo tonight.

Though they still don't know who orchestrated the intrusion on the PSN servers in San Diego, Calif., they were "very sophisticated," Hirai said. It's still not entirely clear what kind of data the hackers got their hands on, but he reiterated that they don't believe credit card data to have been taken and added that the company has received no complaints of identity theft or credit card fraud yet.

Most services will be restored "within the week," Hirai said. The first PSN services to come back online will be online game play for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable, the ability to play downloaded movies from PSN, and unexpired movie rentals through PSN and Qriocity and chat functionalities.

"We are aiming to restore full services including the PlayStation Store and purchasing features within the month," Hirai said.

The breach took place between April 17 and 19, but Sony didn't tell its 77 million customers until April 26 that their personal information, including names, addresses, e-mail addresses, birthdays, PlayStation Network and Qriocity passwords, and user names, as well as online user handles, had been obtained illegally by an "unauthorized person."

The company launched an investigation in conjunction with several security firms into the intrusion on its network and shut down PSN and Qriocity while it rebuilt the security system.

Only 10 million of the 70 million PSN accounts had credit cards attached to them, Hirai said.

One of the chief complaints from customers is how long Sony took to inform them of the breach. Besides being sued by at least one person, Sony has also attracted the interest of the U.S. House of Representatives, the government of the city of Taipei, Taiwan, and the British and Canadian privacy authorities. All of them demanded answers from Sony about why it took so long to tell customers of the breach as well as how Sony would compensate them. The company today explained how it would try to make it up to customers. Sony will provide free identity theft protection service and "will consider" helping customers who have to be issued new credit cards. Sony will also be offering free selected downloads, as well as 30 days of free PlayStation Plus service. Music Unlimited subscribers will also get free service for 30 days.

Sony also says it is also making some changes to enhance its security. It will create a new position of chief security information officer for Sony Computer Entertainment and is accelerating its already-planned move of data servers from San Diego to a different location with more enhanced system security, adding automated software monitoring and configuration management, enhancing data encryption, and implementing more firewalls, Hirai said.

Once the system comes back online, customers will have to download a software update that will require everyone to change their PSN and Qriocity passwords.

Hirai also mentioned the company's past brushes with the Internet hacker group Anonymous, though it is not believed to be involved in the attack that brought PSN down last week.

"We've also received attacks from the Internet group Anonymous, who in addition to taking the personal information of Sony top management, also publicized information about their families, their names, and schools, on the Internet and called for sit-in protests across the world," said Hirai. "These kinds of sequential attacks on the company may not be limited to Sony. And in addition to our own initiatives, we will work with law enforcement and related agencies to combat illegal intrusions and the safety of a networked society."

"Again we like to offer our deepest and sincere apologies for potentially compromising customer data as well as causing great concern and making services unavailable for an extended period of time," he added.

Hirai's profile has been raised of late. Besides tonight's PSN press conference, he also introduced Sony's new tablets at a media event earlier this week. Hirai has risen up through the ranks and recently was mentioned by Howard Stringer, Sony's current chairman and CEO, as his possible replacement when he retires.