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PlayStation ID Theft May Be One Of The Largest Security Breaches Ever

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sony Corp. said Tuesday that the credit card data of PlayStation users around the world may have been stolen in a hack that forced it to shut down its PlayStation Network for the past week.

The company shut down the network last Wednesday after it said account information, including names, birthdates, email addresses and log-in information, was compromised for certain players in the days prior.  Purchase history and credit card billing address information may also have been stolen but the intruder did not obtain the 3-digit security code on the back of cards, Sony said.

Some players brushed off the breach that forced the disconnection of 77 million user accounts in 59 nations as a common hazard of operating in a connected world.  Sony said some services would be restored in a week. But industry experts said the scale of the breach was staggering and could cost the company billions of dollars.

“Simply put, one of the worst breaches we’ve seen in several years,” said Josh Shaul, chief technology officer for Application Security Inc., a New York-based company that is one of the country’s largest database security software makers.

Sony said it has no direct evidence credit card information was taken, but said “we cannot rule out the possibility.” It said the intrusion was “malicious” and that the company had hired an outside security firm to investigate.

Sony has taken steps to rebuild its system to provide greater protection for personal information and warned users to contact credit agencies and set up fraud alerts.

Alan Paller, director of research for the SANS Institute, a security training organization, said that even if credit numbers weren’t stolen, knowing someone’s name, email address and which games he or she likes can lead to expertly crafted scam e-mails. Knowing billing histories can be even more harmful, since they can identify big spenders.

“If you know someone’s spent a lot on gaming, they could be a spectacular target,” he said.

Spokesman Satoshi Fukuoka said the company has not received any reports yet of credit card fraud or abuse resulting from the breach.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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