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Sony was a victim as well: Australian privacy watchdog

Off the hook for PSN hack

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Victims of the Sony Playstation Network hack included Sony, according to Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim.

His just-concluded investigation, launched in April, was designed to determine whether or not the hack compromised the personal information of Australian subscribers to the service, and the degree to which Sony was responsible for compromised information.

According to Pilgrim’s investigation, the PSN and Qriocity breaches did not breach National Privacy Principles. The two NPPs that applied in this case were NPP 2.1, which regulates the circumstances under which an organization is allowed to disclose the personal information of its customers; and NPP 4.1, which requires companies to take reasonable steps to protect personal information of their customers.

In the case of NPP 2.1, the issue of responsibility is relatively straightforward: the subscriber information gained when the network was breached wasn’t “disclosed” by Sony. “Rather, the information was accessed as a result of a sophisticated cyber-attack against the network platform,” the PC’s report states.

As for NPP 4.1, Pilgrim found that just because a company like Sony has its security breached does not necessarily mean it did not take “reasonable” steps to protect information against being compromised.

Based on information provided by Sony, he has found that the company had reasonable measures in place, including “physical, network and communications security measures”, encryption of credit card information, and ISO/IEC 27001-compliant security standards.

The report does, however, underline Australia’s lack of data breach notification laws. Currently, all that exists is a set of notification guidelines. Even these do not stipulate suggest a particular period in which breaches should be notified.

Nonetheless, Pilgrim said, “the affected individuals could have been notified earlier” than the seven days Sony Computer Entertainment Europe dithered after the attack occurred. ®

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