UK data protection unit fines SCEE £250,000 for 2011's PSN breach

Michael French
UK data protection unit fines SCEE £250,000 for 2011's PSN breach

Sony has been hit with a quarter of a million pounds fine for allowing customer data to be accessed when PSN was hacked.

The service outage of April 2011 took down Sony's games service and store for a month, after US-based hacker George Hotz found a way to exploit a network vulnerability.

Hackers were purportedly able to access customer data including addresses and credit card numbers and other personal detail.

But the UK Information Commissioners Office says Sony "let everybody down" with "the most serious breach we have had reported to us," and has fined the Sony Computer Entertainment Europe offices in the UK, which run PSN in the country, £250,000 for its fault in the matter.

The Information Commissioner’s Office is the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals - and is also responsible for things like the Freedom of Information Act and the Data Protection Act.

An ICO investigation "found that the attack could have been prevented if the software had been up-to-date, while technical developments also meant passwords were not secure".

It says the above means Sony broke the law, specifically the Data Protection Act. Although it added that since the breach "Sony has rebuilt its Network Platform to ensure that the personal information it processes is kept secure".

"Sony let everybody down here," said David Smith, deputy commissioner and director of Data Protection at the Information Commissioners Office, in a video statement published this morning.

"We make no apologies for the penalty - it's the most serious breach we have had reported to us."

Smith said the issue, covered extensively in the specialist and mainstream press in 2011, had been beneficial in a way as it had drawn a line under the awareness around sharing data online.

A fuller print statement from Smith said:

David Smith, Deputy Commissioner and Director of Data Protection, said:

“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.

“The penalty we’ve issued today is clearly substantial, but we make no apologies for that. The case is one of the most serious ever reported to us. It directly affected a huge number of consumers, and at the very least put them at risk of identity theft.

“If there’s any bright side to this it’s that a PR Week poll shortly after the breach found the case had left 77 per cent of consumers more cautious about giving their personal details to other websites. Companies certainly need to get their act together but we all need to be careful about who we disclose our personal information to.”

You can watch the ICO's official video statement below: 

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Tags: playstation network , psn hack

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