Sony Finished By 2012?
Could the PSN hacks mean the end of Sony?
With the Japanese consumer electronics giant left reeling after a truly startling few days, the true extent of the PSN hacks may spell the end for Sony. As it attempts to regain control of its network and rebuild its defences, it will have to face the very real possibility that consumers will ditch its products and cancel their subscriptions. With a reported 75 million user’s details stolen, it represents a huge portion of Sony’s audience worldwide that will be feeling more than a little ticked off. Not only that though, but far more damaging could be the effects potential lawsuits will have if a substantial number of the users with personal details stolen take their claims to court.
For those unclear exactly what Sony’s position is, speaking on the Playstation Blog, Patrick Seybold, Senior Director of Corporate Communications and Social Media, had this to say and made the situation abundantly clear.
“If you have provided your credit card data through PlayStation Network or Qriocity, out of an abundance of caution we are advising you that your credit card number (excluding security code) and expiration date may have been obtained. For your security, we encourage you to be especially aware of email, telephone, and postal mail scams that ask for personal or sensitive information.”
Regardless of whether Sony is able to get the PSN back online (and no doubt, in the next few days, it will) it will have unwittingly allowed the details of nearly 75 million registered users to be stolen – there is no getting around the severity of the situation. A worst-case scenario now, if its costumers don’t leave in droves, is the potential lawsuits that could ultimately cost Sony more than it could afford. Even if a fraction of the people who have had their details stolen end up filing for damages, Sony will have a massive bill to pay. In comparison to Microsoft’s own debacle this generation (the RRoD) this has the potential to dwarf those costs and unfortunately sink Sony in the process – the repercussions cannot be understated.
In the UK, there has to date been only two major cases of stolen details resulting in fines, with the larger case costing the responsible company £60,000. “A4e, a ‘social purpose’ company that jointly manages the Hull and Leicester community legal advice centres, was fined £60,000 by the Information Commissioner. The reason given was that access to the data, which was stolen in June, could have caused “substantial distress” and reasonable steps were not taken to prevent its loss.” (Thanks, legalfutures.co.uk)
To put this in perspective, A4e was responsible for losing the details of the comparatively small number of 24,000 clients. Next to Sony’s leak, this is a minor incident that resulted in a hefty penalty, although this is strictly localised to the UK. Sony, being the worldwide company that it is, could be facing huge costs as the full extent of the leaks becomes known.
What happens next is crucial. If Sony is to survive this mess it will need to make clear to the world that sensitive information will never be at such risks again. Though it may be too little too late.