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Sony mulls hacker bounty offer

Cash for Anonymous heads on platters

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Sony execs are mulling the possibility of offering bounties for any information that leads to the arrests of hackers who breached its network.

The unspecified reward might be only offered by Sony through the FBI in a bid to tease out information on a security breach that affected as many as 100 million customers, All Things Digital reports. No firm decision has been taken on the Wild West-style bounty idea, it adds.

The entertainment giant is slowly restoring its PlayStation Network and Online Entertainment service in the aftermath of high-profile hack attacks which spilled personal details of 77 million PlayStation Network gamers and 25 million users of its Online Entertainment services. Personal details including names, email addresses, dates of birth and phone numbers was spilled in the PlayStation Network hack.

Credit card data potentially exposed via the attack was encrypted, according to Sony. The hack attack against Sony followed days after denial of service attacks against the members of Anonymous in protest against Sony's legal action against PlayStation modders.

Two long-standing members of Anonymous told the Financial Times over the weekend that it was likely that some members of the group may have carried out the data smash-and-grab attack, despite semi-official claims to the contrary. The suspicion is based in part on a discussion about vulnerabilities in Sony's network in an Anonymous chat-room before the break-in.

Sony's reputation for security ineptitude was further enhanced over the weekend after it emerged that it had left customer details (names and email addresses) exposed on a forgotten internet-facing server. Data on 2,500 customers who applied to a sweepstake competition back in 2001 was exposed. Sony initially blamed hackers, but the truth is more mundane. "In the latest Sony hack, hackers did NOT publish customer confidential information on a website. Instead, Sony did," as F-Secure's Mikko Hypponen explains.

In one of its few sensible moves to date, Sony is offering users of its PlayStation Network and Qriocity online services a year of free identity-theft protection. The AllClear ID Plus protection, offered by Sony through Debix, will be offered to account-holders in the US only, at least initially.

"We are working to make similar programs available in other countries/territories where applicable," Sony said in a statement. ®

BOOTNOTE

Sony is reportedly looking for a CTO. Corporate headhunters should check out this impressive potential candidate, who might not himself think to apply for the job, given that he's a mythical figure from feudal Japan. And blind.

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