PlayStation Hack: What You Need to Know

Data breach risks personal information for 77 million PlayStation users.

ByABC News
April 27, 2011, 12:19 PM

April 27— -- Listen up, PlayStation fans: It's time to take stock of your online accounts.

In the aftermath of the Sony PlayStation security breach that affected a reported 77 million network users, cyber threat experts caution that you can't be too careful.

In a message to customers Tuesday, Sony said that personal information, including names, addresses, birth dates, email addresses and PlayStation logins and passwords, may have been stolen in a hack that has taken its network offline for the past week.

While the company said there is no evidence that credit card information was compromised, it added that "we cannot rule out the possibility."

Sony said it is investigating the breach and expects to restore parts of its service within the week. But while the company takes care of internal damage control, security experts say its customers should do some due diligence of their own.

Hackers could not only use the stolen information to attempt to break-in to users other online accounts, they could use email addresses to send you official-looking messages filled with malware or directing users to dangerous Web links.

Worst of all, they could hit you where it hurts the most -- your wallet.

Security Expert: Keep a Close Eye on Personal Information

Beth Jones, a senior threat researcher for the security firm Sophos Labs, said PlayStation users might even want to go so far as canceling the credits connected to their accounts.

"I'll be honest, for myself, because I'm paranoid, I would immediately cancel the card, just because as far as you're concerned, that card could possibly be compromised," she said. "We're keeping our fingers crossed that it wasn't compromised, but for some of us that really are paranoid, I would cancel it."

Keeping an eye on credit reports and bank statements is always a best practice, but Jones said that after attacks like this people should take an even closer look at their financial statements and online accounts.

"It's just reiterating how important it is to be aware of what's going on with your personal information," she said.

And your online passwords? Change 'em.

Given how frequently people recycle their passwords or use the same one for several accounts, Jones said, PlayStation users should assume that hackers have their old passwords and choose a new one -- pronto.