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Sony: 24 million SOE accounts hacked, too

More bad news from Sony.

Still reeling from the massive theft of PlayStation Network customer data, the Japanese company announced Tuesday in Tokyo that another division of its video game enterprise, Sony Online Entertainment (SOE), had been hacked as well. Personal information from more than 24 million active accounts may have been stolen, as well as additional account data from an outdated 2007 database.

SOE supports several popular massively multiplayer online (MMO) games and franchises, including EverQuest and DC Universe Online.

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The data that may have been pilfered from the 24 million active accounts includes names, addresses, email addresses, birthdates, gender, phone numbers, login names, and passwords. Sony says that the passwords were hashed, or encrypted.

Information potentially taken from the older database includes in excess of 12,000 non-U.S. credit or direct debit numbers and expiration dates and more than 10,000 direct debit records associated with customers in Austria, Germany, Netherlands, and Spain. Credit card security codes were not stolen.

According to the press release, the attack was associated with the original external intrusion into the PlayStation Network and took place on April 16th and 17th, though the breach wasn't discovered until May 2nd when engineers and security consultants were reviewing the network's systems. While the PSN and SOE databases are separate, they share a similar structure. All SOE servers were immediately shut down and remained so as of Tuesday morning.

Based in San Diego, CA, SOE is currently working with the FBI to investigate the crime. It is also implementing upgrades to its security systems.

The announcement comes just two days after Sony outlined a goodwill package extended to PSN users as an attempt to earn back customer trust. SOE has already announced that it, too, will provide compensation to its existing subscribers, including 30 days of free service plus one day of play for each day the servers remain down. A similar "make good" plan will be offered to customers who use SOE's PlayStation 3 offerings.

One analyst pegged financial losses from the theft of PSN accounts at tens of billions of yen. There is no word yet on the potential cost of this additional breach.

News of further customer data theft is yet another setback for Sony's gaming division, which is currently trying to spread itself into the smartphone and tablet markets while prepping for the fall launch of a brand new dedicated portable games platform.

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