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Sony hit again with two hacks

Japanese ISP subsidiary is broken into while phishers use Sony server in Thailand

May 20, 2011 03:53 PM ET

Computerworld - An intruder has apparently broken into So-net, an ISP subsidiary of Sony, and stolen about $1,200 worth of virtual tokens.

So-net disclosed the compromise in an alert (written in Japanese) on its home page on Thursday.

Meanwhile, security firm F-Secure today disclosed that it has also discovered a phishing site that's hosted on a Sony server in Thailand.

"Basically this means that Sony has been hacked, again," Mikko Hypponen, F-Secure's chief research officer, noted in the blog post. "Although in this case the server is probably not very important," he added.

News of the latest breaches come barely a month after Sony disclosed intrusions at its PlayStation Network and Sony Entertainment Online sites that compromised data on almost 100 million account holders.

A So-net spokesman told The Wall Street Journal, which broke the story, that the breach of the ISP is unlikely connected to the previous compromises.

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Sony-owned So-net lets consumers accumulate reward points that can be redeemed for Sony merchandise and services. The intruders illegally redeemed points belonging to about 130 consumers. Another 73 accounts were compromised, but their points were not redeemed, the Journal noted.

In addition, about 90 email accounts are also believed to have been compromised in the breach

According to the Journal, an intruder using one IP address tried to access So-net's point service almost 10,000 times before finally gaining access. So-net itself appears to believe that the intruder had the usernames of account holders and used an automated program to generate possible passwords, the Journal said.

It's not immediately clear why the company apparently doesn't have a mechanism for flagging multiple failed attempts to access its systems.

The intrusions are believed to have taken place on May 16 and 17. So-net discovered the breach on May 18, after receiving consumer complaints. So-net halted the point redemption service following the discovery of the breach.

The latest breaches are relatively minor in scale compared to the massive breach at PSN and Sony Entertainment Online. Even so, it only adds to the company's embarrassment.

The earlier intrusions forced Sony to take its PSN service offline for several weeks while it struggled to identify the scope of the problems and determine how to fix them.

The company started relaunching the service this week but is struggling to keep it running smoothly.

For instance, earlier this week Sony was forced to once again take a portion of its PlayStation Network offline because of a programming error that could give hackers a way to break into its networks.

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at Twitter@jaivijayan, or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed Vijayan RSS. His e-mail address is jvijayan@computerworld.com.

Read more about Security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.



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