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Sony Data Breach Gets $390,000 Fine in UK

Sony’s European arm has been dealt a punishing $390,000 fine by the UK for poor protection of its customers’ privacy after the 2011 hack of the Sony PlayStation Network online gaming community, according to an article from InformationWeek.

In the attack, 77 million customers’ personal details were exposed, and the hackers were able to get away with customers’ payment card details, names, postal and email addresses, dates of birth and account passwords. In the UK alone, about three million bank customers had to change their account details and obtain new credit cards, the article reports.

Now, the UK Information Commissioner – the official watchdog for privacy and data security – has decided that the breach was due to poor IT security from Sony. After investigators determined that the attack could have been prevented if network software were up to date, Sony is being fined under the UK’s 1998 Data Protection Act. Investigators also believe that the way Sony Entertainment Europe set up user passwords was not sufficiently secure, InformationWeek reports.

The Data Protection Act states that personal information must be:

  • Fairly and lawfully processed;
  • Obtained for limited purposes;
  • Adequate, relevant and not excessive;
  • Accurate and kept up to date;
  • Never kept for longer than necessary;
  • Processed in line with personal legal rights;
  • Not transferred to other countries without adequate protection; and
  • Always kept securely.

The Information Commissioner’s finding also points to the impact that the scandal has had on UK consumers’ willingness to share personal information online, which could impact UK e-commerce more widely. Market research conducted shortly after the incident says that 77 percent of consumers had been left “more cautious” about giving their personal details to websites, InformationWeek reports.

Sony has yet to publicly react to the news, the article notes.

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