Sony hires first information-security czar

Philip Reitinger is hired for the new post of chief information security officer, coming off stints with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Microsoft.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
Philip Reitinger DHS

Sony has hired a former Department of Homeland Security official to head up its cybersecurity efforts, the company announced today.

Philip Reitinger has been named a senior vice president and chief information security officer at Sony. In his role in the newly created post, Reitinger will be charged with defending the company's "assets and services" from any security or privacy threats they might face.

Reitinger became a deputy undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security in 2009 and soon after became the director of its National Cybersecurity Center. He stepped down from those roles in June, citing personal reasons.

Reitinger's new appointment comes just months after Sony was hit with the worst security breach its PlayStation Network service has faced. The online platform, which lets people play games with others and access multimedia content, was hacked earlier this year, revealing the personal information of millions of users. Sony quickly took its service offline and brought it back weeks later after its security was bolstered.

However, by then, the damage was done. The company was forced to offer disgruntled users a "welcome back" package, complete with free games and movies. In addition, it offered customers a $1 million identity-theft insurance policy in the event the stolen personal information, which included encrypted files containing credit card data, was used for illegal purposes.

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Late last month, Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer commented at the IFA trade show in Berlin on the difficulties his company faced with the PlayStation Network breach, but said the trouble is now behind the company.

"I'm pleased to tell you that the PSN is more secure and better than ever," Stringer said. "We are aggressively expanding its content. We have more than 3 million new customers since the network came back online, and sales are exceeding what we had before the cyberattacks."

He continued: "This year, we at Sony have been flooded, we've been flattened, we've been hacked, we've been singed. But the summer of our discontent is behind us."

In Reitinger, Sony has found a new security chief with a strong pedigree. In addition to working at the Department of Homeland Security, Reitinger has had jobs at Microsoft as chief trustworthy infrastructure strategist and at the Department of Defense as executive director of its Cyber Crime Center.