Sony has warned that the personal details of another 25 million gamers have been stolen following a second criminal hack to its systems, which are believed to be the biggest on record.
The Japanese electronics giant took its Sony Online Entertainment multi-player game service offline yesterday and suspended its SOE games on the Facebook social network site, while saying that it was now investigating the problem.
The move comes only days after the company apologised for the theft of the personal details of 77 million users with a Playstation Network account. The account is required to enable users to play games, watch movies and download music online and about three million UK consumers are thought to subscribe to it.
In a message to customers, the firm said: "We had previously believed that SOE customer data had not been obtained in the cyber-attacks on the company," adding that on 1 May, "we concluded that SOE account information may have been stolen".
Such data includes names, addresses, emails, birth dates, gender information and phone numbers, which were stolen from both Sony’s servers and an "outdated" but securely encrypted 2007 database.
The database held 23,400 financial records relating to people from outside of the US, including the direct debit details of 10,700 customers from Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain and the credit and debit card information of others.
The incident is understood to have occurred on 16 and 17 April - earlier than the Playstation Network break-in, which took place on 17-19 April - but it was only revealed yesterday.
Kazuo Hirai, head of the Playstation video game unit, said that the Playstation Network would be reactivated again this week after being taken down on 20 April, and there would be a phased re-introduction of services.
Although he added that the company would beef up security measures, he and other executives acknowledged that not enough had been done in the past and promised a review of its network services to prevent such a situation happening again.
Hirai also said that the FBI and other authorities had been contacted to start an investigation into what the firm described as a "criminal cyber attack" on Sony’s data centre in San Diego, California.
The company plans to offer ‘welcome back’ freebies such as complimentary downloads and 30 days of free services to try and show its remorse and appreciation for their custom.