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Internal Affairs warns scammers may target PlaystationNetwork users

DIA says PlayStation Network users they may be targeted by scammers after the theft of personal information by a hacker.  ALSO: NZ Police, Sony NZ and Privacy Commissioner's statements.

Alex Walls
Fri, 29 Apr 2011

The Department of Internal Affairs' Anti-Spam Compliance Unit is warning Sony PlayStation Network (PSN) account holders that they may be targeted by scammers after huge amounts of personal information was stolen when someone hacked the network.

77 millions users have been affected worldwide and Sony has sold more than 325,000 online-capable Playstations locally.  The Anti-Spam Unit is warning New Zealanders' affected that the stolen data of names, addresses, birth dates and much more means scammers know a lot about customers registered with Sony.

Acting general manager of regulatory and compliance operations, Mike Hill, said people should be extra vigilant about anyone contacting them using this information, usually by electronic means such as email.  Sony itself has told its customers it will never contact them asking for personal information and they should be wary of anyone attempting to do so.

Mr Hill said New Zealand account holders should review their online security, including passwords and secret questions, and the Anti-Spam Unit's website has information for combating spam.

"Scammers will do anything to rip you off, so it's important to be aware of the different kinds of scams circulating - especially if you use email or a mobile phone.  Learn how to identify scams, so you can protect yourself and others from harm.  Be suspicious - any offer that sounds too good to be true probably is, so don't be fooled!" said Mr Hill. 

The New Zealand police are echoing the department's call for vigilance in the wake of the hack, with reports that information stolen includes that of children, whose parents set up accounts for them.

Detective Senior Sergeant John Michael, Online Child Exploitation Across New Zealand, Police National Headquarters, said parents should talk to their children about the risks following the hack.  

"We don't want to create unnecessary fear, but the sad fact is that by being too free with personal information on the net, children in particular can become vulnerable unless their computer use is supervised."

Detective senior sergeant Michael said people should be very wary of approaches by telephone, email or social networks, particularly it it relates to personal details, and advised anyone worried about unauthorised use of their credit cards, to contact their bank.

The Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff said the commission was very concerned and was watching the situation, and Sony's response, very closely.

"Some of our international partners are already investigating and we will stay in touch with them as the situation develops, to judge whether further investigation in New Zealand is warranted."

The commissioner suggested that people who had registered credit card information with the Network inform their provider, and monitor their statements for unusual activity, for the next few months at least.  She also warned people to be wary of approaches via email and telephone asking for personal information.

Sony Computer Entertainment New Zealand said that in response to the intrusion it was acting responsibly and had responded quickly.  The company said as soon as it was aware of the intrusion, it shut down the PSN and Qriocity services, engaged an outside security firm to conduct an investigation and began to re-build its network to provide greater security.

"As soon as we understood that personal details had been compromised, we commenced the process of contacting PSN registrants via email, as well as posting the information publically throughout all our online communication channels, such as our official website."

Sony warned customers that it would never contact them asking for personal information, particularly concerning credit card details, and that as soon as the services were back online, users should change their passwords.  

"If you are asked for this information, you can be confident Sony is not the entity asking."

Alex Walls
Fri, 29 Apr 2011
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Internal Affairs warns scammers may target PlaystationNetwork users