This week Sony revealed that following their widespread network issues last year nearly 50,000 music files were stolen from their network. The information surfaced as James Mark and James McCormick were brought to trial for allegedly stealing the music in the United Kingdom. The breach happened shortly after Sony had to bring its PlayStation Network, now called the Sony Entertainment Network, down due to hackers stealing personal information from some 70 million of its users. Among these stolen music files were unreleased tracks by Michael Jackson, including duets with Freddie Mercury and will.i.am, for which Sony paid nearly $400 million back in 2010 following the singer’s death.
Since the attacks Sony has spent $168 million on overhauling its online service, though the damage to the company’s image has been severe. After the PlayStation Network was down from April 20th until May 14th of last year, the company worked to console its angry members by offering a selection of games to download for free, as well as giving them a free month of access to their premium service, PlayStation Plus. The company went as far as changing their terms of service following the attack, locking users into an agreement that would never allow them to participate in a class action lawsuit against the company.
Sony’s online gaming service isn’t the only one having problems with hackers and stolen accounts. Microsoft has been dealing with users having their accounts broken into, usually over popular soccer franchise, FIFA. The hackers steal the accounts to buy Microsoft currency and download online content for the game. An account being compromised results in it being locked from use entirely, sometimes indefinitely, though Microsoft has claimed most are resolved within a matter of days. A good friend of mine was blocked out of his account for nearly three months while Microsoft passed his case around in circles, only to finally get them to relent their endless investigation after many angry phone calls. Stories like his have not been uncommon.
But unlike Microsoft, whose attacks have not been so widespread, Sony still has a rocky road ahead to fully rebuilding their security image, and news like this doesn’t help much to restore confidence in its users. Hopefully this year Sony can keep its network name away from the words hacker and security breach long enough to properly repair their image.