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Sony CEO: Sorry About the Data Breach

Sony CEO and President Howard Stringer has issued a personal apology to customers affected by what he called a “man-made” data breach, which hit 77 million PlayStation users and 24.6 Sony Online Entertainment users. It’s perhaps the clearest sign yet that the Japanese electronic giant may need to do more to restore the confidence of its customers. Stringer says the company is in the process of upgrading its security.

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In a lengthy mea culpa and sometimes verbose explanation that begins “Dear Friends,” Stringer writes, “In the last few months, Sony has faced a terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan. But now we are facing a very man-made event – a criminal attack on us and on you – and we are working with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies around the world to apprehend those responsible.”

He also acknowledges a week-long delay between the breach and it being made public on April 26: “I wish we could have gotten the answers we needed sooner, but forensic analysis is a complex, time-consuming process. Hackers, after all, do their best to cover their tracks, and it took some time for our experts to find those tracks and begin to identify what personal information had – or had not – been taken.”

Of some consolation to customers, Stringer confirms that there’s “no confirmed evidence” that any credit card or personal information has been misused, and says Sony will roll out identity theft insurance of $1 million for each gaming (PlayStation) and music/movie (Qriocity) customer in the U.S., and will restore its gaming service in the coming days after shutting them down in the aftermath of the cyber attack.

The customer response on the same blog was mixed. While many are eager to get back online, some were upset with the initial lack of communication. “I have lost a lot of faith in Sony over the last couple of months so Sony has a lot of work ahead of them winning me over again,” one customer says. Another writes, “Thank you kind sir. Let’s not make the same mistakes again, shall we?”

Do you think Stringer’s letter hits the right note?

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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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