Sony claims Anonymous attack in letter to U.S. Representatives

The attack on PlayStation Network was a “very carefully planned, very
professional, highly sophisticated criminal cyber-attack designed to
steal personal and credit card information for illegal purposes
,” Sony Computer Entertainment asserted in a letter to members of Congress.

From the Associated Press:


Sony first disclosed the
attack last week and said it may have compromised credit card data,
email addresses and other personal information from 77 million user
accounts. On Monday, Sony said data from an additional 24.6 million
online gaming accounts also may have been stolen.

The company
has shut down the affected systems while it investigates the attacks
and beefs up security. (Sony Computer Entertainment Chairman Kazuo) Hirai said Sony is working “around the clock to
get the systems back up and to make sure all our customers are informed
of the data breach and our responses to it.”

Hirai also asserted in the letter that his company’s investigation found “the intruders had planted a file on one of those servers named ‘Anonymous’ with the words  ‘We Are Legion.’”

Anonymous known for its hacking or “hacktivist” attacks on whomever its members (?) don’t like, threatened Sony in an April 3 posting on the AnonOps Communications blog after Sony pursued legal action against George Hotz, AKA Geohot, the hacker who figured out and told the world how to jailbreak the PlayStation 3.

Sony and Geohot settled out of court, but not until after Sony won a federal magistrate’s approval to subpoena Geohot’s Internet provider to learn who visited his site.

Nonetheless, an April 24 posting headlined “For Once We Didn’t Do It” on AnonOps denies any official Anonymous attack on PlayStation Network. Whoever wrote the post, however, acknowledged that wildcat “Anons” may have acted on their own volition.

I honestly have no idea how Anonymous functions and if it can even be described accurately as an “organization.” What I do know, however, is that Sony has already confirmed that whoever is responsible for the data breach would have been able to access users’ identifying information, which is never a pleasant thought for anyone whose data could be compromised.

The oft-irreverent Gawker reports Anonymous fears a “nerd backlash” following allegations that their members (again, ?) are responsible for keeping gamers away from online play.

Anonymous has come to realize that attacking Sony’s PlayStation
Network alienates a powerful group of potential supporters: nerds. The
point was proved after Anonymous launched an unrelated attack on Sony in early April that briefly took down the PlayStation Network, in retaliation for Sony suing
a kid who bypassed the Playstation 3′s security systems. The attack
sparked a nerd backlash which crippled Anonymous chat servers with
retaliatory strikes and was generally a PR disaster.

“All the Sony kids were flooding the [Anonymous chat servers] and
whining and complaining,” said Gregg Housh an activist associated with
Anonymous. An attack on Sony’s PlayStation Network “pisses off a lot of
people they want as fans not enemies.” A similar concern was voiced last
December when Anonymous contemplated attacking Amazon in revenge for it
banning Wikileaks: One reason for not attacking was concern that the attack might anger people who were trying to do holiday shopping.

(Hotlinks in original.)

Sony has not reported the confirmed compromising of credit card data and asserts major credit card companies have not notified Sony of any fraudulent activity likely to be rooted in the April data breach.

Sony Online Entertainment taken Offline

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Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) has gone offline for “maintenance” according to the statement at their site located here which has temporarily replaced their homepage. According to the message:

“Customers outside the United States should be advised that we further
discovered evidence that information from an outdated database from
2007 containing approximately 12,700 non-US customer credit or debit
card numbers and expiration dates (but not credit card security codes)
and about 10,700 direct debit records listing bank account numbers of
certain customers in Germany, Austria, Netherlands and Spain may have
also been obtained. We will be notifying each of those customers
promptly.”

They also go on to state that their main credit card database was not at risk as it is located in a “completely separate and secured environment.” SOE and PSN (Playstation Network)  provide separate entertainment services for Sony. SOE is probably better known among PC users for the MMOs they have focused on that platform, such as Everquest and Star Wars Galaxies.

However, perhaps as many as 24.6 million user accounts were also affected by the attack with personal information compromised in the same way that they had been on PSN with names, addresses, and hashed passwords placed at risk. Whether or not the two incidents are related is anyone’s guess. Since SOE is down, that also means anyone hoping to squeeze in a little time on any of its games are going to have to wait.

To say that Sony has had the worst few days in their life is probably something of an understatement at this point. With PSN’s forced downtime and now SOE’s over security, I can only imagine the IT specialists working in the trenches at the company praying for some light at the end of the tunnel.