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How do Sony’s PlayStation Network problems affect you?

Owners of Sony’s PlayStation 3 have been warned to be on their guard after the company revealed hackers may have stolen millions of sets of personal details from users of the PlayStation Network.

The PSN is Sony’s online gaming hub and it has been out of action for the past week due to technical issues.

But last night Sony admitted cybercriminals might have got access to sensitive information of PSN subscribers, including their email addresses, credit card details and PSN password.

More than three million British people are registered on the system, so if you’re one of them, you could well be affected. The problems also relate to Sony’s music and video service Qriocity.

What Sony have to say…

In a statement on its PlayStation blog, Sony said: “We believe that an unauthorized person has obtained the following information that you provided: name, address (city, state/province, zip or postal code), country, email address, birthdate, PlayStation Network/Qriocity password, login, password security answers, and handle/PSN online ID.

“It is also possible that your profile data may have been obtained, including purchase history and billing address (city, state/province, zip or postal code).

“If you have authorized a sub-account for your dependent, the same data with respect to your dependent may have been obtained.

“If you have provided your credit card data through PlayStation Network or Qriocity, it is possible that your credit card number (excluding security code) and expiration date may also have been obtained.”

The next steps…

So what do you do now? Well, for a start, it is important not to panic.

With a massive 77 million people around the world potentially affected by this hack, the scale of the problem is huge and its full implications will take time to emerge.

Sony will send an email to all those involved – you may have already received it – but be careful to only respond to any you receive if you can be sure they are real.

Hackers may well use the confusion and the email or postal information they’ve obtained already to then send out fake letters and emails to ‘phish’ for even more personal details.

If you are unsure, you can call Sony customer services on 0844 736 0595.

Sony do advise the following:

  • Review your credit card statements and be alert to suspicious transactions.
  • Change usernames and/or passwords for other accounts/subscriptions if they are the same as your PlayStation Network or Qriocity service account.
  • Be especially aware of email, telephone, postal mail or other scams that ask for personal or sensitive information. Sony will not contact you in any way, including by email, asking for your credit card number, social security number or other personally identifiable information. If you are asked for this information, you can be confident Sony is not the entity asking.
  • When the PlayStation Network and Qriocity services are back online, log on to change your password. ?

The Japanese gaming giant also promises to rebuild the PSN systems with even tighter security measures to prevent any further hacks.

The Security Expert’s View

But internet security expert Graham Cluley of Sophos believes anyone who thinks they could be at risk should go further than Sony advises.

He said people should always use unique passwords as problems like this put other accounts at risk if common passwords are used across multiple accounts.

He also suggests changing any “secret answers” and again reiterates being wary of any unsolicited emails claiming to be from Sony or any other company because they could be fake and hiding viruses or spyware.

Mr Cluley adds that PSN members should treat the potential credit card risks as a real risk. He explained: “If I lost my credit card in the back of a taxi I would cancel my card. I wouldn’t wait for a fraudster to sting it for cash.

“If Sony has lost your credit card details then it’s worse as the credit card information is now being held digitally, right in the hands of people best placed to exploit it. So, yes. I would cancel my credit card.”

Have you been affected by the PSN problems? Share your experiences with us by leaving a comment…