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Dear Sony Customer: 5 Ways To Read Bad News

The letter begins politely as all letters do delivering bad news. Sony’s came with those three little words at the top: “Customer Service Notification.” That’s when you should sit down. It’s usually all downhill from there. Announcements like these informing you that your data has been breached are becoming all too common.

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Sony’s missive addresses customers thus: “Dear Valued Sony Online Entertainment Customer.” That’s humble, polite, dignified: 10/10 for a good start. In short, the letter says that the data breach of 77 million PlayStation users now extends to 24.6 million Sony Online Entertainment customers, so a contrite opening was important.

Jonathan Bernstein, president of Bernstein Crisis Management, was put off by the technical and sometimes confusing “corporate-speak” in Sony’s letter. “The theft itself undermines Sony’s perceived competency,” he says, “but I think they did a good job, overall, of factually communicating how they were getting back on top of the situation.”

Pay Dirt has already given some rules of thumb for customers whose information was breached as a result of the data theft at marketing company Epsilon. There will be an increasing amount of letters like these from other companies in the months and years to come, so here are the top 5 tips on how best to translate them.

1. When will the data breaches end?

“Our ongoing investigation of illegal intrusions into Sony Online Entertainment systems has discovered that hackers may have obtained personal customer information from SOE systems.”

Translation: A spokeswoman for Sony says the investigation is ongoing. This latest discovery happened on May 1 and the company told customers the next day, so it has been quick out of the traps with this update on its data breach. In this case, it’s good for bad news to travel fast. The sooner we know the truth, the better.

2. Have our details been stolen?

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. “

Translation: There’s one thing that’s possibly worse than being the victim of a crime, and when you are not sure if you are a victim or not: you see a vase lying upturned in a laundry basket when it should have been sitting on the mantel. Certain databases have been breached, but not all information therein may have been stolen. The two announcements are the cyber equivalent of realizing your TV was stolen and, on closer inspection, discovering that your favorite pair of earrings are missing too (24.6 million pairs in this case).

3. Why is my password “hashed”?

“Stolen information includes, to the extent you provided it to us, the following: name, address, email address, gender, birth date, phone number, login name and hashed password.”

Translation: Technology blogger Joe Manna says “hashed” means that the cyber criminal may be able to decrypt it later. On the upside, Sony says there is no evidence that its main credit card database was compromised as it’s in a separate secure environment.

4. How did this happen?

“We greatly appreciate your patience, understanding and goodwill as we do whatever it takes to resolve these issues as quickly and efficiently as practicable.”

A spokeswoman says they were “very sophisticated perpetrators.” (That won’t necessarily make customers feel any better.) Sony also says it has engaged a recognized security firm recognized security firm to conduct a full and complete investigation into what happened; the spokeswoman says some of those sensitive security details will remain confidential. Manna says, “It’s just a guess, but it appears they have no idea who executed the attack. This seems to be par for the course of compromises recently.”

5. What can customers do now?

“When Sony Online Entertainment’s services are fully restored, we strongly recommend that you log on and change your password.”

Translation: Yes, but you can’t change your date of birth. In future, if a company requires information for identification purposes only give a false date of birth, or phone number for an old prepaid phone. And whether you are a Sony customer or not, never give your personal details to anyone who emails or calls.

Pay Dirt readers, what do you think of Sony’s response?

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    • By WebOsPublisher

      UGH! I am running Home Premium x64,and went to use my control panel,in "Home" view,and can not see any icons…but,I can in classic view….how do I replace the icons? I see others have
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      control panel home icons disappeared? – Vista Forums
      Welcome to Windows Vista Forums. Our forum is dedicated to helping you find solutions with any problems, errors or issues you are experiencing with Windows Vista. The Vista forum also covers news and updates and has an extensive Windows Vista tutorial section that covers a wide range of tips and tricks.
      Vista Forums > Vista Forums > General Discussion
      control panel home icons disappeared?
      User Name Remember Me? Password Join Now FAQ Today’s Posts Search Alt Search Show Threads
      Show Posts Advanced Search Go to Page… Vista – control panel home icons disappeared?
      03 Jan 2009
      #1 (permalink)
      wheresjerry vista home premium x64 SP1 6 posts
      control panel home icons disappeared? UGH! I am running Home Premium x64, and went to use my control panel, in "Home" view, and can not see any icons…but, I can in classic view….how do I replace the icons? I see others have the similar issues, but can not seem to find a solution to this issue….. My System Specs System Manufacturer/Model Number HP a6655f OS vista home premium x64 SP1 CPU AMD Phenom X4 9150e quad core Memory 5 gig Graphics Card NVIDA GeForce 6150SE Monitor(s) Displays HP w2207h Screen Resolution 1680×1050 Mouse MS wireless laser 5000 Hard Drives 640 gig internal, 650 Maxtor external
      03 Jan 2009
      #2 (permalink)
      Dwarf Windows Vista Ultimate x64 Service Pack 2 2,730 posts Doncaster, UK
      Re: control panel home icons disappeared? Hi Jerry and welcome to Vista Forums
      Have a look at the following Tutorial: Control Panel – Hide Icon My System Specs System Manufacturer/Model Number Dwarf Dwf/11/2012 OS Windows Vista Ultimate x64 Service Pack 2 CPU Intel Core-i5-3570K 4-core @ 3.4GHz (Ivy Bridge) (OC 4.2GHz) Motherboard ASRock Z77 Extreme4-M Memory 4 x 4GB DDR3-1600 Corsair Vengeance CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9B (16GB) Graphics Card 2 x AMD Radeon HD7770 1GB CrossFired (OC 1100Mhz/1250MHz) Sound Card Realtek High Definition on board solution (ALC 898) Monitor(s) Displays ViewSonic VA1912w Widescreen Screen Resolution 1440×900 Keyboard Microsoft Digital Media Pro Keyboard (USB) Mouse Microsoft Comfort Optical Mouse 3000 (USB) PSU XFX Pro Series 850W Semi-Modular Case Gigabyte IF233 Cooling 1 x 120mm Front Inlet 1 x 120mm Rear Exhaust Hard Drives OCZ Petrol SSD 64GB SATA III
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      coolnewyorker Vista Home Premium 64 bit 355 posts Manhattan, New York City
      Re: control panel home icons disappeared? Stay with classic so you would not have to quess which category carries which particular programs. Click medium icons and auto arrange options.
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      03 Jan 2009
      #4 (permalink)
      wheresjerry vista home premium x64 SP1 6 posts
      Re: control panel home icons disappeared? There is no way to do this other than thru regedit? I get in there, and weeeeoooooh….kind of scarry, tho I am fairly competent in fooling around, but not wanting to go there! My System Specs System Manufacturer/Model Number HP a6655f OS vista home premium x64 SP1 CPU AMD Phenom X4 9150e quad core Memory 5 gig Graphics Card NVIDA GeForce 6150SE Monitor(s) Displays HP w2207h Screen Resolution 1680×1050 Mouse MS wireless laser 5000 Hard Drives 640 gig internal, 650 Maxtor external
      03 Jan 2009
      #5 (permalink)
      coolnewyorker Vista Home Premium 64 bit 355 posts Manhattan, New York City
      Re: control panel home icons disappeared? Stay away from the registry. My System Specs System Manufacturer/Model Number HP Pavilion dv7-1170us OS Vista Home Premium 64 bit CPU Intel Core 2 Duo T5800 @ 2.00GHz Motherboard Compal Memory 4.096 Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT Screen Resolution 1440 x 900 Keyboard IBM enhanced (101-or 102) keyboard Mouse Synaptics PS/2 Port TouchPad Hard Drives 289.09 GB Internet Speed cable Wireless
      03 Jan 2009
      #6 (permalink)
      wheresjerry vista home premium x64 SP1 6 posts
      Re: control panel home icons disappeared? I poked around a bit, but couldn’t locate the sections in:
      Have a look at the following Tutorial: Control Panel – Hide Icon
      So I just figured I would leave it there…I did a system rollback to previous date, didn’t do it, spyware checks, etc…
      I know that this might not be a problem for most folks, but stuff like this just frustrates me, so I try and figure it out….only way to learn is by figuring stuff like this out…. My System Specs System Manufacturer/Model Number HP a6655f OS vista home premium x64 SP1 CPU AMD Phenom X4 9150e quad core Memory 5 gig Graphics Card NVIDA GeForce 6150SE Monitor(s) Displays HP w2207h Screen Resolution 1680×1050 Mouse MS wireless laser 5000 Hard Drives 640 gig internal, 650 Maxtor external
      03 Jan 2009
      #7 (permalink)
      coolnewyorker Vista Home Premium 64 bit 355 posts Manhattan, New York City
      Re: control panel home icons disappeared? yeah…but stay away from Registry.
      What exactly do you want to do with the icons in Control Panel? All of them ? or just some of them? Or just size? Or the icon/s appearrances? Or did you go to control panel to change some icons in other applications? My System Specs System Manufacturer/Model Number HP Pavilion dv7-1170us OS Vista Home Premium 64 bit CPU Intel Core 2 Duo T5800 @ 2.00GHz Motherboard Compal Memory 4.096 Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT Screen Resolution 1440 x 900 Keyboard IBM enhanced (101-or 102) keyboard Mouse Synaptics PS/2 Port TouchPad Hard Drives 289.09 GB Internet Speed cable Wireless
      03 Jan 2009
      #8 (permalink)
      wheresjerry vista home premium x64 SP1 6 posts
      Re: control panel home icons disappeared?
      Quote: Originally Posted by coolnewyorker yeah…but stay away from Registry.
      What exactly do you want to do with the icons in Control Panel? All of them ? or just some of them? Or just size? Or the icon/s appearrances? Or did you go to control panel to change some icons in other applications?
      All the icons in the Control Panel Home view are gone…I would like to replace them as they were…I can see them in the Classic view only…in the Home view, it used to have starting point icons to switch between different areas like system and maintenence, personalization, etc…. My System Specs System Manufacturer/Model Number HP a6655f OS vista home premium x64 SP1 CPU AMD Phenom X4 9150e quad core Memory 5 gig Graphics Card NVIDA GeForce 6150SE Monitor(s) Displays HP w2207h Screen Resolution 1680×1050 Mouse MS wireless laser 5000 Hard Drives 640 gig internal, 650 Maxtor external
      04 Jan 2009
      #9 (permalink)
      wheresjerry vista home premium x64 SP1 6 posts
      Re: control panel home icons disappeared? I was able to do system restore, and viola! I tried the restore point that was a few days older than previous attempts…thanks for all help…..I think this is probably a great group to belong to! My System Specs System Manufacturer/Model Number HP a6655f OS vista home premium x64 SP1 CPU AMD Phenom X4 9150e quad core Memory 5 gig Graphics Card NVIDA GeForce 6150SE Monitor(s) Displays HP w2207h Screen Resolution 1680×1050 Mouse MS wireless laser 5000 Hard Drives 640 gig internal, 650 Maxtor external control panel home icons disappeared? problems? « HAL.dll missing
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About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.

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