Sony says no customer information was taken in online attack


Sony has said no consumer information was taken in an attack over the weekend. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Sony said that no consumer information was taken in the attack that brought down its online networking service, the PlayStation Network, and its entertainment network over the weekend. The company said in a statement that while its networks were overwhelmed, the attackers did not appear to have broken into its system, where the firm stores the personal and financial information of its millions of users.

The attack is the largest-scale disruption Sony's networks have seen since 2011, when cybercriminals attacked the PlayStation Network and Sony Online Entertainment, and scooped up approximately 77 million customers' personal and financial information. The company said in 2011 that it estimated the breach cost it $171 million, excluding legal settlements.

A group called "Lizard Squad" claimed credit via Twitter for the coordinated attack, which directed overwhelming amounts of traffic to Sony's servers. The group also claimed credit for similar attacks against "League of Legend" maker Riot Games and "World of Warcraft" maker Blizzard Entertainment.

But the group didn't stop there -- at least when it came to Sony. The group also sent a Twitter message to American Airlines, saying that there could be explosives on the plane of John Smedley, the president of Sony Online Entertainment. Smedley had earlier been sending messages via Twitter about his plans to fly from Texas back to his home in California. The plane was diverted to Phoenix, following the message.

Sony referred all questions about the reported bomb threat to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In a statement, the agency confirmed that the American Airlines Flight 362 -- which was traveling from Dallas to San Diego -- was diverted to Phoenix. The flight landed safely and then continued on to its final destination.

The statement did not confirm a connection to Sony's cyberattack, but said, "Federal law provides severe penalties for threatening or interfering with the operation of an aircraft. The FBI investigation into this incident continues."

On Twitter, Smedley confirmed that was his plane that  had been diverted.

Smedley also urged media outlets not to make too much hay of Lizard Squad's claims that it was associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In a message taking credit for the cyberattack on Sony's networks, the hacking group claimed it had "planted the ISIS flag" on the Japanese firm's servers; there was no official information on whether this was true.

On Twitter, Smedley dismissed the claim, saying, "[Those] ISIS guys are pure evil and shouldn't be conflated with trolls."

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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