PlayStation hack scandal hits 1 million Middle East users


Sony's delay in announcing the theft sparked an online furor from users, almost 90 percent of whom are based in Europe or the US

By Shane McGinley

Up to one million Sony PlayStation Network (PSN) users in the Middle East may have had their accounts hacked in one of the biggest internet security breaches on record, Arabian Business has learned.

Credit card details of some 27,000 gamers in the region may have been breached by thieves who hacked into the online gaming network earlier this month, Sony has admitted.

Some 77 million users worldwide have been hit by the scandal, after Sony warned hackers had stolen names, addresses and possibly credit card details of gamers worldwide.

A Dubai-based PlayStation spokesperson said the online gaming network had stored details of around 14,000 credit card holders in the UAE, 12,500 in Saudi Arabia and 500 in Kuwait.

Many gamers used pre-paid PSN cards rather than credit cards to access the service.

The online gaming network has 1,093,000 account holders in the Middle East with the majority – 650,000 – based in Saudi Arabia.

The UAE is Sony’s second largest market, with 250,000 account holders, followed by Kuwait (90,000), Qatar (46,000), Bahrain (26,000), Lebanon (21,000) and Oman (10,000).

Japanese electronics giant Sony pulled the plug on the network on April 19 after identifying a breach in its popular PlayStation Network, a service that produces an estimated $500m in annual revenues.

Sony delayed the official public announcement regarding the stolen data until Tuesday, hours after it had unveiled its first tablet computers in Japan.

Sony’s delay in announcing the theft sparked an online furor from users, almost 90 percent of whom are based in Europe or the US, and could push some users to rival Nintendo’s Wii and Microsoft’s XBox gaming devices.

In a message posted on its US PlayStation blog, Sony said an “illegal and unauthorized person” obtained names, addresses, email addresses, birth dates, user names, passwords, logins, security questions and more.

A Sony spokesman said that after learning of the breach it took “several days of forensic investigation” before the company knew consumers’ data had been compromised.

Sony’s executives made no mention of the network crisis at the tablet launch in Tokyo, when the glossy devices were unveiled, nor at a later briefing with journalists.

The tablets, which come in two sizes, will be the first to enable the use of PlayStation games and mark Sony’s ambitious drive to compete with Apple’s year-old iPad.

The shutdown of the PlayStation Network prevented owners of Sony’s video game console from buying and downloading games, as well as playing with rivals over the internet.

Sony said it could restore some of the network’s services within a week and issued a set of Frequently Asked Questions on its website to deal with queries about the network.

The online network was launched in the autumn of 2006 and offers games, music and movies to people with PlayStation consoles. It had 77 million registered users as of March 20, a Sony spokesman said.

Source: Arabian Buisness


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