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Sony admits losing yet more gamers' details from SOE, shuts site

Two weeks after its PlayStation Network service being hacked, Sony's Online Entertainment site has been suspended, with up to 25 million more gamers' personal details spirited away.

Sony has admitted yet more data may have been stolen and closed another of its gaming services. Two weeks after a "very sophisticated" hacking of its PlayStation Network service, Sony's Online Entertainment site has been suspended, with a further 25 million gamers' personal details spirited away in the biggest criminal hack ever.

The company said late on Monday that the names, addresses, birthdates, emails, phone numbers and further information may have been hacked from its servers as well as an "outdated" database of credit card details from 2007.

In a message to its customers, Sony said: "We had previously believed that SOE customer data had not been obtained in the cyber-attacks on the company. However, on 1 May we concluded that SOE account information may have been stolen. If you are asked for this information, you can be confident Sony is not the entity asking."

Sony had already been forced to shut down the entire PSN service after the break-in of 18 April, but said it did not find out about the latest breach until yesterday, which forced the SOE service, which includes the DC Universe multiplayer game and Facebook titles, to go offline too. As many as 25 million gamers' details could be at risk.

When asked whether other data could be lost, Sony spokeswoman Sue Tanaka said the Tokyo company could not be certain further breaches had not taken place. Although the electronics company reinforced firewalls to protect systems, she added: "They are hackers. We don't know where they're going to attack next."

Three executives bowed for several seconds in apology to users at the company's headquarters today, saying PSN would be back online this week. "We deeply apologise for the inconvenience we have caused," said Kazuo Hirai, chairman of Sony Computer Entertainment. He added the FBI and other authorities are investigating what the company called a "cyber criminal attack" on its data centre in San Diego, California.

It remains unknown who was responsible for these massive thefts of personal data. Members of the hackers' group Anonymous denied all responsibility at an event in Los Angeles last week, wearing their trademark masks.

Visit the PlayStation blog for more information and updates on the service and find out more about what to do if your data has been stolen here.