PlayStation Network users reporting credit card fraud

PSN boasts 77 million users worldwide

Sony executives Kaz Hirai, president of Sony Computer Entertainment (left), Shinji Hasejima, CIO (right), at a [[artnid:384903|Tokyo news conference]] on May 1, 2011

Sony executives Kaz Hirai, president of Sony Computer Entertainment (left), Shinji Hasejima, CIO (right), at a [[artnid:384903|Tokyo news conference]] on May 1, 2011

Sony PlayStation Network users are reporting fraud on their credit cards -- everything from a flight booked in Germany to purchases in Japanese grocery stores.

On Thursday, a security firm reported hackers are offering for sale what they claim are stolen PSN credit card details, despite the fact Sony is adamant that the data was encrypted and is therefore unusable. Sony also said there's "no evidence that credit card data was taken."

Meanwhile, Congress has gotten involved, with the House Committee on Energy and Commerce sending a list of questions to Sony chairman Kazuo Hirai (PDF link to the letter), and demanding answers by May 6. Additionally, the NextGov website claims the Homeland Security Department is helping Sony with its investigation.

It's hard to argue the credit card frauds are anything other than coincidental. PSN boasts 77 million users worldwide and not all of them will have registered card details on the free service. However, to give an idea of scale, 77 million people is more than the population of France and Belgium combined, or a quarter of the population of the United States.

In other words, a significant percentage of PSN users are likely to be hit by fraud every day via unrelated causes, and it's easy to pin the blame on Sony.

Although it's said that only 2.2 million card details are on sale, there is no indication which of the 77 million users would be affected. Therefore any PSN user who handed over credit card details is probably feeling a little twitchy.

A user with a credit card that's only been used for PSN transactions could provide more rigorous proof, and Ars Technica claims to have found such an individual. One of its readers has an American Express card that "sits in a drawer in my house for emergencies," but which he used to sign-up to PSN. It was compromised last weekend, the reader claims, although in this case American Express spotted the fraudulent transactions.The big question is whether hackers were unable to decrypt the credit card details. If they had full access to the software that runs PSN then it's possible that they could have used the same mechanism that's ordinarily used to decrypt the card details. Alternatively, the encryption might be weak and easily cracked.

The second big issue relates to whether the hackers have the all-important CVV code that's required to make Internet transactions. Sony initially claimed in its FAQ that it never requests the codes but has since amended the answer to say that it does ask for the codes but they aren't stored in their database.

However, we don't yet know how long the hackers had control of the network. It's possible they could have eavesdropped on transactions while the network was up and running, and gathered the CVS codes and even credit card details themselves. That could explain why only a small number of credit card details are being offered for sale.

Whatever the case, every PSN user should be contacting their credit card company to ask what to do, with the best plan being to ask for a new card.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags online securityhackersplaystationfirewallsnetwork securitysecuritysony

More about ABC NetworksABC NetworksABC NetworksABC NetworksAmerican Express AustraliaCVSetworkSonyTechnology

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Keir Thomas

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts