Sony fined £250,000 after millions of UK gamers’ details compromised
The entertainment company Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Limited has received a monetary penalty of £250,000 (approx US$390,000) from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) following a serious breach of the Data Protection Act.
The penalty comes after the Sony PlayStation Network Platform was hacked in April 2011, compromising the personal information of millions of customers, including their names, addresses, email addresses, dates of birth and account passwords. Customers’ payment card details were also at risk.
An ICO investigation found that the attack could have been prevented if the software had been up-to-date, while technical developments also meant passwords were not secure.
David Smith, Deputy Commissioner and Director of Data Protection, said:
“If you are responsible for so many payment card details and log-in details then keeping that personal data secure has to be your priority. In this case that just didn’t happen, and when the database was targeted – albeit in a determined criminal attack – the security measures in place were simply not good enough.
“There’s no disguising that this is a business that should have known better. It is a company that trades on its technical expertise, and there’s no doubt in my mind that they had access to both the technical knowledge and the resources to keep this information safe.
“The penalty we’ve issued today is clearly substantial, but we make no apologies for that. The case is one of the most serious ever reported to us. It directly affected a huge number of consumers, and at the very least put them at risk of identity theft.
“If there’s any bright side to this it’s that a PR Week poll shortly after the breach found the case had left 77 per cent of consumers more cautious about giving their personal details to other websites. Companies certainly need to get their act together but we all need to be careful about who we disclose our personal information to.”
Following the breach, Sony has rebuilt its Network Platform to ensure that the personal information it processes is kept secure.
Small data breach draws big fine, signals need for encryption
Just two weeks ago, a non-profit healthcare provider was slapped with a $50,000 fine from the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) for violating the HIPAA security rules, after losing an unencrypted laptop containing the sensitive personal information of 441 patients. This is the first HHS penalty for a data breach involving less than 500 victims. For small healthcare providers, this signals an escalation in the consequence of a data breach, as organizations will be held accountable regardless of size. A fine of $50,000 is a lot of money for a small practice, especially a non-profit provider.