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Sony Fined $395,000 for Poor Security in Data Breaches

Sony Fined $395,000 for Poor Security in Data Breaches
January 24, 2013 11:20AM

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The European fine against Sony was long overdue and should have been much larger, said security analyst Evan R. Keiser. "Not only did Sony fail to use firewalls to protect its networks, it was using outdated versions of the Apache Web server with no patches applied on the PlayStation Network during the time of the breach," Keiser said.

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Sony has been slapped with a 250,000 pounds ($395,000) fine for poor security that exposed subscriber data in violation of Europe's Data Protection Act. The breaches, which date to April 2011, put the personal information of millions of customers -- including names, addresses, e-mail addresses, dates of birth, credit card details, and account passwords -- at risk.

Just weeks after hackers penetrated the Sony PlayStation Network, the hacking group LulzSec took responsibility for another attack on Sony Online Entertainment. During that attack, information from some 100 million user account profiles was exposed. Then, in October 2011, hackers attacked the PlayStation Network again. The company locked down 93,000 accounts.

Europe's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) launched an investigation. The conclusion: Sony could have prevented the attack if it had kept its security software up to date.

No Apologies

"If you are responsible for so many payment card details and login 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," said David Smith, deputy commissioner and director of data protection for the ICO.

As Smith sees it, 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 said.

Smith called the penalty "substantial" and made no apologies for it because the case was one of the most serious ever reported to his agency. The Sony breach directly affected a huge number of consumers, he said, 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 percent of consumers more cautious about giving their personal details to other Web sites," Smith said. "Companies certainly need to get their act together but we all need to be careful about who we disclose our personal information to."

Fine Not Big Enough?

Richard S. Westmoreland, a team lead at Perimeter E-Security, said the fine was weak, considering how many people's information was stolen. He also was concerned it did nothing to prevent this type of negligence in the future, because it was reactive, not proactive. (continued...)

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Pat Michaels:

Posted: 2013-01-26 @ 7:19am PT
That's chump change to them. Not even a slap on the wrist.



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