Sony reports 2nd security breach by hackers

Sony on Monday reported a second security breach by hackers, who may have stolen personal information about 24.6 million users.

The hacking was announced on the company’s Sony Online Entertainment Web site:

We are today advising you that the personal information you provided us in connection with your SOE account may have been stolen in a cyber-attack.  Stolen information includes, to the extent you provided it to us, the following: name, address (city, state, zip, country), email address, gender, birthdate, phone number, login name and hashed password.

The company said that there is no evidence that its main credit card database was compromised.

The newest breach comes on top of the April 17 break-in of 77 million customers’ accounts by hackers who may have stolen credit card information.

Sony said the second breach took place April 16-17, before the PlayStation intrusion. The company said hackers may have stolen about 10,700 direct debit records of users in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, as well as 12,700 credit or debit card numbers in other countries outside the United States.

Earlier Monday, Sony’s online entertainment division announced that it was shutting down its Web site over concern about an “issue” during an investigation of the first security breach.

In light of the problems, Sony will not attend a hearing on data security Wednesday before the House subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, said Ken Johnson, a spokesman for subcommittee chair Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.).

“While we certainly understand that the company is going through a difficult time,”  Johnson said Monday, “there are still millions of American consumers twisting in the wind, and we’re determined to get some answers for them.”

Johnson noted that Sony has agreed to answer the questions by late Tuesday that Bono Mack and ranking member Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C) raised in a letter to the company last week .

Bono Mack and Butterfield had originally asked for answers by Friday.

David Vladeck, the head of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, will testify at the hearing, along with Pablo Martinez of the U.S. Secret Service, privacy expert Justin Brookman of the Center for Democracy and Technology and information security expert Eugene Spafford of Purdue University.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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