Finally Sony has recognised the possible threat that was made to the personal information of its 1.5 million Australian PlayStation users. After one of the world’s biggest data breaches occurred on the PlayStation Network in April, Sony has come to the party with an offer of free identity protection for the year.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports about this in its story ‘Sony offers free ID theft protection to Aussies.’

The package includes “CyberAgent Internet Surveillance”, whereby CS Identity’s technology scours the internet for unauthorised use of your identity. The firm conducts 24/7 monitoring of criminal web pages, chat rooms, bulletin boards and file sharing sites to identify trading or selling of customers’ personal information.

Identity restoration is also included, which involves the firm helping customers restore their identity after becoming the victim of identity theft.
The data stolen during the breach includes names, gender, addresses, email addresses, birthdays and login passwords for Sony’s PlayStation Network and its Qriocity music streaming service.

All up 1,560,791 Australian accounts were affected – 280,000 of which had credit card details. This is a fraction of the 77 million total accounts exposed worldwide.

Security experts have warned that even without credit card details, hackers could use the other stolen details to construct highly targeted and believable attacks designed to steal more personal information and/or infect computers.

The SMH says the Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, has been investigating the breach, and they say it is still ongoing. In May we blogged about Australia’s Privacy Laws, as they relate to data breaches.

The Government is set to introduce tougher Privacy Laws following this data breach. One of which will be mandatory notification laws, helping to protect Australians from identity theft following any future data breaches, and another which will allow victims of identity theft following a data breach to be able to obtain some kind of compensation for any loss they may receive.

The Sydney Morning Herald recently reported one in 10 Australians who use the internet have lost money to online identity fraud over the past year, according to VeriSign Authentification Services. We recently blogged that these fraud figures have doubled since 2007. The cost of this is estimated to be $1.286 billion during the past year.

But the real cost of identity theft comes when a person’s credit file is impaired. When identity theft affects people’s credit files there is no reimbursement for losing the money they could borrow. But victims often lose their dream home, can’t borrow for their business and can’t get the new car they wanted.

Often victims don’t know about the fraud until they apply for credit and are refused because they have a bad credit rating.

Image: Arvin Balaraman /