One of the bigger consumer news stories over the Easter long weekend was the very large-scale hacker assault on the Sony PlayStation and Qriocity networks. ‘Large scale’ to the extent that 75 million accounts are potentially affected, and all kinds of personal data, from billing addresses through to credit cards, potentially compromised.
Sony’s official line is to be wary, but it’s ‘unlikely’ that the credit card data was stolen. For most people, that’s hardly a good enough response. Or at least, you’d think so. The lack of certainty over whether credit card details have been stolen doesn’t seem to have whipped up a frenzy of concerned consumers in reality.
I’ve done the wise thing as a consumer and proceeded to cancel my credit cards that have been attached to my PlayStation accounts. I wasn’t necessarily concerned with losing much money (the joke’s on anyone trying to squeeze money out of a journalist), but going through the motions seemed to be the right thing to so.
So I rang up the two credit card companies I’m attached to. Both are banks of a substantial size, but neither had the slightest clue about this “PlayStation Network problem". That suggests to me that, of the percentage of 75 million that live within Australia, not many are concerned enough about the security breach to ring up their credit card company and cancel the card. And, for that matter, why aren't the banks aware of the problem?
Is this because Sony’s communication around the issue has been so poor? Possibly. It’s been a full five days after I personally noticed PSN was down, and I still haven’t had any email from Sony. There’s a statement up on the PlayStation website, but unless you knew to go there, the only other source of information has been the news.
Not that this is necessarily a surprise (Sony remains a Japanese corporation, with all the red taping around media and customer relations that that entails), but it’s remarkable that there are so many Sony customers potentially uninformed out there at such a major outage.
But it also suggests that the consumer has been lulled into a false sense of security with storing credit card details online. As easy as it is to point fingers at the lack of security on Sony’s network, it’s also important that consumers monitor where their personal data is stored, and when something happens that compromises that data, they do something about it as soon as possible.
Updated: It's worth noting that the SMH has reported that the NSW Police fraud squad has warned Australians of the potential need to cancel credit cards. Still no direct correspondence from Sony, and nothing from the banks, either.