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Crap security lands Sony £250 k fine for PlayStation Network hack
From: Erica Absetz <eabsetz () opensecurityfoundation org>
Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2013 12:07:37 -0500
Sony has been fined £250,000 ($395k) for allowing million of UK
gamers’ details to be spilled online by PlayStation Network hackers.
The UK's Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) levied the heavy fine
against Sony Computer Entertainment Europe for a serious breach of the
Data Protection Act.
Personal information of millions of Brits - including their names,
addresses, email addresses, dates of birth and account passwords -
were swiped by hackers who broke into systems running the PlayStation
Network (PSN) in April 2011. The data watchdog added that credit card
details were also at risk.
Sony blamed Anonymous or a section of the hacktivist collective for
the attack, but Anonymous denied any involvement. The group admitted
launching denial-of-service attacks on various Sony websites, but who
was behind the PSN breach remains unclear or at least unproven.
An ICO investigation concluded that the database raid could have been
prevented if Sony had applied the latest security patches to its
systems' software had and followed best practice guidelines in
password security - such as hashing and salting credentials. The
conclusions fall into line with earlier technical analysis of the
breach by security specialists.
David Smith, deputy commissioner and director of data protection at
the ICO, said in a statement on the fine:
If you are responsible for so many payment card details and log-in
details then keeping that personal data secure has to be your
priority. In this case that just didn’t happen, and when the database
was targeted – albeit in a determined criminal attack – the security
measures in place were simply not good enough.
There’s no disguising that this is a business that should have known
better. It is a company that trades on its technical expertise, and
there’s no doubt in my mind that they had access to both the technical
knowledge and the resources to keep this information safe.
Smith described the case as "one of the most serious ever reported" to
the ICO in explaining the bumper fines. "It directly affected a huge
number of consumers, and at the very least put them at risk of
identity theft," he concluded.
Sony rebuilt the PSN in the wake of the breach to ensure its network
is more secure. The entertainment giant has repeatedly apologised for
the massive breach, which made it a poster child for system
insecurity. The raid may have had some positive effects in promoting
greater awareness of securing passwords and patching among consumers
and large corporations.
The breach resulted in a five-week outage of the PSN as Sony drafted
in security experts to resolve the resulting mess. This cost an
estimated $171m, making the UK data breach fine small change by
comparison. A chunk of this multi-million-dollar bill probably footed
generous welcome back packages and compensation to gamers rather than
security consultant fees and costs for extra technology, but Sony has
never provided a detailed breakdown on this point. ®
The ICO can fine an organisation up to £500K for data security
breaches. The Sony fine is among the heaviest ever levied but is not a
record. "It’s not a record fine - it's one of our biggest monetary
penalties, but Brighton and Sussex NHS Trust was fined £325k and the
recent text message fine came to a total of £440k," an ICO spokesman
explained. Hard drives from the Brighton trust were sold on eBay
instead of being destroyed or at least wiped. Sensitive data left on
the computer kit included STD test results as well as the names and
dates of birth of more than 1,500 HIV positive patients.
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- Crap security lands Sony £250 k fine for PlayStation Network hack Erica Absetz (Jan 24)