PSN hack: Howard Stringer apologizes, another hack plot & more

Several new developments in the ongoing PlayStation Network, Qriocity and Sony Online Entertainment security breach have unfolded over the past few hours: a long-silent executive has finally issued a statement; Sony outlined an identity theft protection program; security specialists are troubleshooting the new and improved PSN service; and new chatter on IRC channels suggests a third strike against Sony is in the works.

PSN hack: Howard Stringer apologizes, another hack plot & more

Better late than never

Sony Corporation president and CEO Howard Stringer issued an apology today for the service outages. Recently, some criticized Stringer for his apparent reluctance to come forward with a statement.

“As a company we — and I — apologize for the inconvenience and concern caused by this attack,” Stringer said. “Under the leadership of Kazuo Hirai, we have teams working around the clock and around the world to restore your access to those services as quickly, and as safely, as possible.”

The executive reiterated that “there is no confirmed evidence any credit card or personal information has been misused.” He promised Sony will “continue to monitor the situation closely” and services should be up and running “in the coming days.”

The company said on Sunday that certain PSN services would be available this week, but admitted it could take the entire month for everything to be working at full capacity again.

Protecting the players

Patrick Seybold, Sony’s Director of Corporate Communications and Social Media, announced the company would cover identity theft protection services for PSN and Qriocity members. The free “AllClear ID Plus” service provided by Debix will offer the following for 12-months:

  • Cyber monitoring and surveillance
  • Priority access to licensed private investigators and identity restoration specialists
  • A $1 million identity theft insurance policy per user

Sony promised more details are forthcoming. So far, only U.S. citizens need to worry about the June 18th cut-off.  That’s not to say everyone else has been forgotten, however. “We are working to make similar programs available in other countries/territories where applicable,” said Seybold.

One giant leap towards service restoration

Seybold also addressed those gamers who are chomping at the bit to get back to their killing ways — online, that is.

“Today our global network and security teams at Sony Network Entertainment and Sony Computer Entertainment began the final stages of internal testing of the new system, an important step towards restoring PlayStation Network and Qriocity services,” he said. “It’s our top priority to ensure your data is safe when you begin using the services again.”

Just prior to the PSN outage, eagerly-anticipated titles such as “Portal 2,” “SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALs” and “Mortal Kombat” were released for the PlayStation 3. All contain online multiplayer modes.

A new threat?

CNET published a report yesterday claiming it was tipped off by an anonymous member of an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel frequented by hackers that a plot to publish customer information such as credit card numbers and addresses could unfurl this weekend.

Sony continues to maintain that there is no proof credit cards numbers were accessed by any outside party despite a smattering of reports to the contrary.