Just six days after closing its PlayStation network, Sony reported that its online gaming networked was hacked and more than 70 million members had their email addresses and passwords stolen. The disclosure came as Sony was emailing users of its free service that their data was stolen.
Sony, the fifth biggest media conglomerate in the world, said that credit card information of some users may also have been stolen, and members who had provided their credit card data online should carefully review their bills.
The security breach is the largest ever to date, and is especially worrying because many members may have used the same email and password information for social networking websites. This means those who are not aware or who did not act fast enough may be the victims of identity theft. Criminals could use the email addresses and passwords to hijack other websites and steal bank account information, and send fake emails to friends.
Sony said other information stolen during the hacking includes birth dates, home cities, and possibly security questions and answers. Criminals who steal e-mail addresses alone can use this information to scam unaware surfers. After a security breach at marketing firm Epsilon last month, users began receiving emails which directed them to a website that installed a key-logger program that recorded every word they typed into the keyboard, including passwords.