Sony Faces Suits Over PlayStation Breach


By Ian Sherr

Plaintiffs lawyers are targeting Sony Corp. with class-action suits after a breach of the company’s online-game network compromised the personal information of millions of users.

In one lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court’s Northern District of California, videogame player Kristopher Johns said Sony’s security was negligently poor and the company failed to encrypt personal information.

The lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday against Sony’s U.S. entertainment unit and seeks class-action status, also alleges Sony failed to notify customers of the breach in a timely manner.

“This has caused, and continues to cause, millions of consumers fear, apprehension, and damage,” the filing said.


To read the rest of the story, either contact me directly or read more online at the WSJ: here. (subscription required)


(Published April 29, 2011, on The Wall Street Journal website.)

Hacker Raids Sony Videogame Network


By Nick Wingfield, Ian Sherr and Ben Worthen

A hacker 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, whose gaming network has been offline for six days, disclosed Tuesday that an “illegal and unauthorized intrusion” between April 17 and April 19 resulted in the loss of a significant amount of personal information that could be used in identity theft.

The PlayStation Network is used by owners of the company’s game machine to play against one another, chat online and watch movies streamed over the Internet. Sony warned users the intruders may have accessed billing addresses, purchase histories and account information for their children.

Fueled by fast Internet connections, online-gaming services have become global social hubs for tens of millions of people who spend hours competing and cooperating on fantasy quests, combat missions and other activities. People across the globe pay monthly fees to play online-computer games like “World of Warcraft.” Most titles for the PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Corp. Xbox 360 have online components.

Sony warned members of its PlayStation Network and a related entertainment service called Qriocity to closely watch their credit card statements for unauthorized charges. It also told members to be on guard against email, telephone and postal scams aided by the lost personal information.

“While there is no evidence at this time that credit card data was taken, we cannot rule out the possibility,” Sony said in a blog post.

The PlayStation Network, meanwhile, remains out of commission, sowing frustration among gamers. In the blog post, Sony spokesman Patrick Seybold said the company has a “clear path” to restore “some services within a week.”

The incident is a major black eye for the Japanese electronics giant, locked in an increasingly heated battle with Microsoft, Nintendo Co. and other companies in the gaming market. The breach also highlights the trove of personal information stored in online-gaming services.

E.J. Hilbert, a former agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who is now a senior vice president at security consulting firm Arixmar, called the compromise of as many as 77 million users accounts “huge.”

To read the rest of the story, either contact me directly or read more online at the WSJ: here. (subscription required)

(Published April 27, 2011 on the front page of The Wall Street Journal.)

Apple Sues Samsung Electronics Over ‘Galaxy’ Phone, Tab


By Ian Sherr

Apple Inc. filed a lawsuit claiming Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. copied the look and feel of its popular iPhone smartphones and iPad tablet computers, the latest in a series of legal skirmishes that underscore the increasingly high stakes of the mobile computing market.

The lawsuit, filed on April 15, alleged that Samsung’s smartphones, including the “Galaxy S 4G,” “Epic 4G,” “Nexus S” and its “Galaxy Tab” touchscreen tablet, violate Apple’s intellectual property. The 38-page lawsuit was filed in the U.S. court’s northern California district.

“Rather than innovate and develop its own technology and a unique Samsung style for its smart phone products and computer tablets, Samsung chose to copy Apple’s technology, user interface and innovative style in these infringing products,” Apple said in the filing.

A Samsung representative said the company’s development of core technology and intellectual property were key to its continued success.

“Samsung will respond actively to this legal action taken against us through appropriate legal measures to protect our intellectual property,” said Kim Titus, a Richardson, Texas-based spokesman for the company’s telecommunications unit.

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal battles among technology giants following the rapid sales growth of smartphones and touchscreen tablet computers. Apple has become the object of many lawsuits from numerous companies, including Eastman Kodak Co. and Nokia Corp., that claim the consumer electronics giant violated their intellectual property in its hit products. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company has also filed lawsuits against competitors, such as Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. and Inc.


To read the rest of the story, either contact me directly or read more online at the WSJ: here. (subscription required)


(Published April 18, 2011, in The Wall Street Journal.)