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Hackers claim they have access to Sony's servers and are preparing a third attack.  (Source: Facebook)

Sony is giving customers one year of free identity theft protection.  (Source: ID Theft Blog)
Sony offers free identity theft protection for 1 year to U.S. customers

Given all the confusion surround Sony Corp. (6758), it's hard to find the evidence to differentiate fact from fiction.  Thus far, about all that is clear is that hackers broke into two separate Sony databases -- the Qriocity/PlayStation Network (PSN) subscriber database and the Sony Online Entertainment subscriber database -- and took at least some details from records of as many as 101 million customers.

I. Another Attack?

Now CNET is reporting that hackers are preparing a third attack against the company as retaliation for how it handled the first two database breaches.  The news organization spoke to the hackers over an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel.  The individuals claimed to have access currently to Sony's servers and were contemplating their next move.  They said that they would publicize all details, including customer names, credit card numbers, and addresses.

There's a strong possibility that the promised attack will never materialize.  After all, CNET covered a similar IRC-sourced story from the group Goatse that turned out to be likely inaccurate.  At the time we dug up evidence that showed CNET was likely duped into writing about a prank orchestrated by Goatse itself, which Goatse was passing off as an "attack" on its organization.  It's important to remember that just because some people say something on an IRC channel doesn't mean it's real; this is the internet after all.

While one would hope that Sony would shore up its online security, it's believable that it could be breached again given its poor track record.  Even if the promised attack proves authentic, CNET didn’t clarify whether or not the involved parties were behind the original two attacks.

Thus far no group has owned up to the original attacks.  Sony tried to implicate Anonymous, with whom it's battled in the past.  But organizers of the Anonymous community quickly responded condemning credit card theft and claiming their organization had no role in the attacks.  They accused Sony, the government, or rival hackers of framing them.

II. Free Identity Theft Protection for Everyone!

Sony is offering its customers a new gift to try to keep them on PSN and prevent them from jumping ship to someone else (like say Xbox Live).  The move was announced late yesterday on Sony's U.S. PlayStation blog.

The company will be providing users one free year of access to "AllClear ID Plus", an identity theft protection and insurance service by American security firm Debix, Inc.  The package gives users insurance which covers up to $1M USD for "identity restoration costs, legal defense expenses, and lost wages that occur within 12 months after the stolen identity event."

The service also gives customers access to free monitoring tools, which include automatic alerts.  And if the customers' stolen data does get abused, Debix "private investigators and identity restoration specialists" will try to assist the victim.

Customers who were subscribed to PSN at the time of the data breach will get an enrollment email and will have until June 18 to sign up for a year of free protection service.  Sony says it will make similar offers available for other regions, writing:

We are working to make similar programs available in other countries/territories where applicable. Information will be posted on local websites/blogs when available.

It's still unclear whether Sony will offer a similar service to the 24 million customers whose data was lost in the Sony Online Entertainment breach.

It's nice, though to see Sony finally doing something decisive to try to protect its customers.

The company is currently the subject of a class action lawsuit filed by upset customers.





"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller







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