Sony Computer Entertainment has been fined a record £250,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after PlayStation Network gamers’ details were leaked online.
Hackers targeted the PlayStation Network in April 2011 and leaked millions of gamers’ personal information on the internet, including credit card numbers and users’ names, addresses and account passwords.
According to the ICO the PSN hacking incident was “one of the most serious” breaches of Data Protection Act it had seen and criticised Sony for its lack of up-to-date security software. UK Authorities also suggested the hack could have been prevented by the entertainment giant.
“There’s no disguising that this is a business that should have known better”, said David Smith, deputy commissioner and director of data protection of the ICO. “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.”
“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.”
The 2011 security breach was a huge blow for Sony, causing the company’s executives to make public apologies, fend off hordes of furious PlayStation 3 gamers and watch their share prices tumble. However, since the hacker attack, Sony has said it has rebuilt the PlayStation Network to be more secure, taking the PlayStation Network offline after the attack to repair the damages.
Smith added that the ICO makes “no apologies” for the “clearly substantial” penalty issued to Sony, deemed the figure justified due to the high risk of identity theft to the estimated 100 million users affected.
Speaking to the BBC, Sony said that it “strongly disagreed” with the fine, which is the highest fine ever imposed by the ICO against a private company, and plans to appeal the decision.
“Criminal attacks on electronic networks are a real and growing aspect of 21st century life and Sony continually works to strengthen our systems, building in multiple layers of defence and working to make our networks safe, secure and resilient,” added a Sony spokesperson.
“The reliability of our network services and the security of our consumers’ information are of the utmost importance to us, and we are appreciative that our network services are used by even more people around the world today than at the time of the criminal attack.”
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