Sony CEO Offers Identity Theft Insurance to PlayStation Users

The company finally appears worried it will lose business over data breach

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Sony's PlayStation Network is still down, and the company still can't say when it will be back, but it finally seems to be getting worried that the data breach, which exposed users' credit card information as well as passwords and other personal information, may cost it a few customers. Sony CEO Howard Stringer took to the PlayStation blog today to apologize to users and offer some incentives for them to return -- whenever the company gets the network operating again.

"As a company we — and I — apologize for the inconvenience and concern caused by this attack," Stringer wrote. In his letter to PlayStation users the CEO offered each a $1 million insurance policy against identity theft in addition to a "welcome back" package that included a free month of service plus a refund for time lost during the outage.

The company is facing an increasingly vehement backlash for its handling of the breach, primarily for the fact that it waited two days before addressing customers. Stringer addressed that concern today, calling it a "fair question." He said (as he has before), that the company shut down its servers when it noticed something wrong, but waited to address customers until it could figure out what that something was. "I wish we could have gotten the answers we needed sooner, but forensic analysis is a complex, time-consuming process."

The question still remains as to who broke into the network. In written testimony to lawmakers on Wednesday, the company referred to a file found on its servers named "anonymous," which contained the phrase, "we are legion," references to the loose-knit group of activist hackers that calls itself Anonymous. But the group has repeatedly denied its involvement, most recently in a blog post yesterday:

Whoever broke into Sony's servers to steal the credit card info and left a document blaming Anonymous clearly wanted Anonymous to be blamed for the most significant digital theft in history. No one who is actually associated with our movement would do something that would prompt a massive law enforcement response. On the other hand, a group of standard online thieves would have every reason to frame Anonymous in order to put law enforcement off the track. The framing of others for crimes has been a common practice throughout history.

One blogger has suggested the breach was a massive conspiracy between Sony and the U.S. government in an effort to shut down Anonymous by turning gamers against it. That seems far-fetched, perhaps, but last month so would a data breach exposing 77 million customers' credit card numbers.

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This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.