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A timely warning from Sony

  • By Timothy Roberts
  • Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Even for those of you not heavily involved in the gaming world cannot fail to have noticed the mess that Sony have got themselves into with the breech of security on their PlayStation Network (PSN). Their servers, which power everything from multiplayer games and online social profiles to selling music, videos and new game titles to users, was hacked open, and the indications now are that personal data may have been captured by those breaking in.

It must be one of the biggest fears of any online merchant, but it also should serve as a warning to those in the payment space. Sony’s PSN was one of the largest collections of credit card data online (their 77 million profiles is certainly in the same league as Apple and Amazon), and of course the network had to remain porous so people can log in and interact with the account.

In exactly the same way as any payment system needs to be.

Take away the volume issue and your payment service is even more attractive – you have personal information, you have links into and out of bank accounts of those users, and you have a system that is geared towards moving money around. That’s a recipe for a perfect storm. Are you able to protect the information of your customers?

And if the worst should happen, how would you communicate with your customers and explain to them (a) what has happened and (b) in such a way that they will stay with the service and you won’t suffer the negative press and backlash that Sony’s slow response has managed to attract – a backlash that could easily impact on Sony’s share price and future earnings.