Sony hit again with two hacks

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

An intruder has apparently broken into So-net, an internet service provider subsidiary of Sony, and stolen about $1200 worth of virtual tokens.

So-net disclosed the compromise in an alert (written in Japanese) on its homepage 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 close to 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.

The Sony-owned So-net ISP lets consumers accumulate reward points that can be redeemed for Sony merchandize 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 close to 10,000 times before finally gaining access. So-net itself appears to believe that the intruder had 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 May 17. So-net discovered the breach on May 18, after receiving consumer complaints. So-net stopped 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 how to fix them.

The company started re-launching the service this week but isn 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 provide 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 @jaivijayan , or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed . His e-mail address is jvijayan@computerworld.com.

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Jaikumar Vijayan

Computerworld (US)
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