Sony: Cold War can help us fight PSN hackers

Sony’s security boss and former US military man Brett Wahlin says protecting PSN is similar to the Cold War.

The platform holder’s chief security officer was appointed last year following the PSN hack that brought down the PS3 online service and saw millions of users’ personal data unlawfully accessed.

Wahlin worked as a counter-intelligence officer for eight years during the Cold War. He told SC Magazineabout the tactics used to defend against hackers on PSN.

The types of attacks we see are by groups with social agendas. The methods they use aren’t the same as the state-sponsored guys,” he said.

You start to see a lot of similarities to the social engineering tradecraft in the Cold War. They have a discrete set of characteristics and targets and if we can begin to adapt some of the pattern recognition to a digital-based [environment], we may be able to detect fraud more effectively.

Why do people keep clicking on [bad] links, why do they give out information that they shouldn’t over the phone, and what are the barriers to change this? If we detect unusual activity, it may be that someone’s been owned by a Trojan that we don’t know about, and we can stop data flying out the door.”

Wahlin added that Sony now track users more closely to detect possible breaches in the network.

We are looking to see if there are there key elements within a person’s interaction with their environment,” he said. That could be interaction with badging systems, with telephones – when and who do they call– and with systems like browser habits and applications used.

All these things allow us to set up a pattern for users, so when something different happens we can respond.”

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