Saturday, May 7, 2011

Its Sony - the security intrusion into Online entertainment portal !

Insurance is risky business.  Have you heard of Milma, Nandhini, Vijaya, Sudha…………….. another one in the list would surely make you identify them.  It is aavin..  all these are State Govt. JV of milk marketing federations.  Aavin is the State Coop Milk federation which for some decades enjoyed great monopoly in distribution of packaged milk.  Now there are many private players and market forces are giving it a tough time.  Recently, a fire occurred in one of their units and I had posted one on that recently.
Is there anything which can claim to be totally secure in cyber space ? Digital Fortress perhaps was only a story  but with truer implications which proved that even the US National Security Agency’s code-breaking machine (Transltr) could be breached………
All losses are bad for Insurers but indemnity is the foremost principle and making good the losses is Insurer’s business.
The loss at Aavin was by fire which is the standard product of any Insurer.  Most Indian Insurers thrive on Motor business, which again is loss making.  At one point of time, it was envisaged that opening up of Insurance sector would do wonders – now after a decade, still the penetration is not very high and innovative products are not much.
Elsewhere, there is a very peculiar claim – it is reported that Sony is looking to its insurers to help pay for its massive data breach, an amount that one expert estimates could exceed $2 billion.
Sure, you are fond of Online games – the most entertaining being from the stable of Sony – the Play Station Network, often abbreviated as PSN,  an online multiplayer gaming and digital media delivery service for use with the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable video game consoles.  There is nothing that is totally secure online and in April 2011, the Online entertainment network has gone offline due to a "compromise of personal information as a result of an illegal intrusion".  It is reported that at  the time of the intrusion, the network consisted of "approximately 130 servers, 50 software programs and 77 million registered accounts.  Hackers stole the names, birth dates and possibly credit-card numbers for 77 million people who play online videogames through Sony Corp.'s PlayStation console, in what could rank among the biggest data breaches in history.

Sony had earlier disclosed  that  hackers had stolen the names, addresses and passwords of nearly 25 million more users than previously known less than a day after the Japanese company apologized for one of the worst break-ins in Internet history.  The Japanese electronics company said it discovered the break-in of its Sony Online Entertainment PC games network also led to the theft of 10,700 direct debit records from customers in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain and 12,700 non-U.S. credit or debit card numbers.

The April incident has sparked legal action and investigations by authorities in North America and Europe, home to almost 90 percent of the users of the network, which enables gamers to download software and compete with other members.  This incident  also forced it to suspend its Sony Online Entertainment games on Facebook. Sony posted a message on Facebook saying it had to take down the games during the night.  Newspaper reports state that the  dataset was stolen on 16 and 17 April, before the PSN break-in, which occurred from 17 to 19 April 2011.  This could cause a serious blow to its image. 

The PlayStation 2  is a sixth-generation video game console manufactured by Sony as part of the PlayStation series. Its development was announced in March 1999 and it was first released on March 4, 2000 in Japan. Its primary competitors were Sega's Dreamcast, Microsoft's Xbox, and Nintendo's GameCube.
It is stated that Sony has variety of insurances covering damages – whether there was any overall cap is not known.  It is understood that hackers accessed personal data for more than 100 million of  Sony’s online video game users. It has said it could not rule out that some 12.3 million credit card numbers had been obtained during the hacking.  Sony noticed unauthorized activity on its network on April 19, and reported it to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation on April 22.
Some experts said Sony faces an uphill battle to get its insurers to pay for its damages from the cyber breach.  The Insurers are likely to blame Sony for negligence for failing to properly secure its data centres.  Sony has shut down its online game services, including its PlayStation Network, which has 77 million users, as well as online games such as “Free Realms,” which has more than 12 million players.  Reports have it that notifying the customers and cleaning up the breach would cost about $20 per person which is huge money.  A premier  firm that specializes in research on data breaches and security issues stated that credit card numbers are ‘crown-jewel’ data.”

The risks sure would have been widespread amongst many Insurers and if the costs related to crisis management is covered, then Insurers are in for a big claim from Sony.  Sony could not meet its deadline on restoring the Playstation – there are irritated users without realizing the extent of their loss when it comes to loss of personal data.

Many of us do indulge in ‘online purchases’ or at least do ‘online booking’ of cinema tickets and railway tickets and do some other online transactions.  Realize that there is never totally encrypted data and there is nothing as ‘safe and secure gateway’.  You are always vulnerable to attack

Roads are dangerous and prone to accidents – that never would stop common man from using the roads.  Ships are safe in the Port but that is not for what they were built.
Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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