Sony's letter to Congress: A timeline of the PSN/SOE attack and Anonymous finger-pointing

Though Sony declined to testify to Congress at today's hearing regarding the PSN/SOE intrusion which compromised millions of users' data, Sony Computer Entertainment of America chairman Kazuo Hirai has revealed new details on the attack in an 8-page letter to members of Congress.

According to the letter, the intrusion, which Sony first detected on April 19, was a "very carefully planned, very professional, highly sophisticated criminal cyber attack designed to steal personal and credit card information." Hirai explains that on April 20, Sony's team confirmed that data had been stolen, but did not yet know the extent of the theft. That afternoon, Sony's online services were shut down and the company began the "exhaustive and highly sophisticated process of identifying the means of access and the nature and scope of the theft."

By April 21, Sony had hired two separate security firms to aid its investigation; on April 22, it notified the FBI; and on April 23, the teams concluded that "very sophisticated and aggressive techniques" had been used. A third security firm was brought on, and by the 25th, Sony had determined that personal data had been stolen, which it announced on the 26th. Why the delay? Sony was apparently reluctant to make the announcement prematurely, for fear that it would "lead [Sony's customers] to take unnecessary actions if the information was not fully corroborated by forensic evidence."

Sony still does not know with certainty whether or not credit card numbers were stolen in the breach, or who executed the attack, though it does say that it has "no confirmed reports of illegal usage of the stolen information." Hirai also claims that Sony now knows how the attack was carried out (or, it "believes" it does), and that it is working with the FBI to identify the perpetrator.

To prevent future attacks, Hirai says that Sony has hired a new Chief Information Security Officer, has added additional layers of software security, encryption, and monitoring, and is expediting a planned move of its data center to a location with "enhanced security."

Above: This totally unrelated photo of some PAX East cosplay doesn't communicate much about this story, but whatever. Guy Fawkes, rite?

Though Sony admits that it does not know who was responsible for the intrusion and theft, Hirai mentions Anonymous several times in the letter, seemingly connecting its earlier denial of service attacks with the current situation. Hirai also notes that one of its Sony Online Entertainment servers was planted with a file named "Anonymous," which contained the phrase "We are Legion."

Given Anonymous' usual modus operandi, it seems unlikely to us that any of its supporters carried out an attack designed to steal personal information and credit card numbers, so the supposed calling card may be a red herring. It doesn't really matter, though - Anonymous supporters or not, those responsible executed the attack on their own volition, and clearly intended to use stolen information for illegal purposes. They stand alone.

Whoever did it, we just hope the FBI catches them. Call in Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, Olivia Dunham, Frank Lundy, Plastic Man... whoever the hell it takes.

Above: Bring in the best of the best, FBI!

May 4, 2011




  • dyingisfunny - May 6, 2011 2:33 a.m.

    Everything that sony does has to be "highly sophisticated" apparantly.
  • Spybreak8 - May 5, 2011 9:24 p.m.

    Yup that's the problem of being Anonymous, even with their head enforcer saying this wasn't us, a huge group with many different individual's opinions, how could you prove against it?
  • Ravenbom - May 5, 2011 7:40 p.m.

    Why the delay? Because Sony is a piece of shit. They've made that clear year after year since 2006. I started buying my nulti-platforms on PS3 but now I'm done with that shit.
  • TheHungryLemur - May 5, 2011 2:14 p.m.

    I doubt it's Anon's work. Call me crazy, but I think it's some form of U.S government not wanting anyone donating to Japan! They want to see Japan burn... Just a theory... :D
  • weenvips - May 5, 2011 1:11 p.m.

    welcome to our website: ------- -------- if you like to order anything you like. More details, please just browse our website Quality is our Dignity; Service is our Lift. enjoy yourself. thank you!! ------- -----
  • NightCrawler_358 - May 5, 2011 12:16 p.m.

    This outage is getting annoying, but at least everyone can always play singleplayer games. What I don't understand is Xbox fanboys laughing how we can't play online, when we aren't even paying anyway. If Xbox players paid nothing, they wouldn't have online either. I just don't understand why people in the world are so horrible as to take away a huge populations hobby. Nothing you can gain will beat the hate you'd get if people found out it was you.
  • RebornKusabi - May 5, 2011 3:09 a.m.

    So in that pic, "Anonymous" in a Guy Fawkes mask is getting his kick blocked by Imari from Bible Black? What a random picture lol Back to the topic at hand, I don't think its Anonymous... This seriously isn't their modus operandi so I fully agree that that file screams of "red herring" and was put there exactly to throw off proper suspicion. Of course, I've been wrong before.
  • DeadlyViper95 - May 5, 2011 2:14 a.m.

    if sony blames anonymous, that would be really smart of them. sony said they found a file in the hack called anonymous and the text read "we are legion" (anon catchphrase). this can be total bullshit, but hey, id rather blame a hacker group that actually attacked you before than one that u might never find. BTW IM STILL FIRST BITCH
  • ThatGuyFromTV - May 5, 2011 12:25 a.m.

    @FanofSaiyan It would actually be incredibly surprising if they tried to take the credit for this. Their motive was to show Sony that they shouldn't take away the ability to do different things (like OtherOS) from people who bought the system with those things in mind. They also clearly stated that they didn't want to hurt or inconvenience the users of the PS3, which is why they stopped their previous attack on PSN and is also why they would never take credit for something like this. It goes completely against their motive and everything they've said up to this point. I think someone saw how easily the PSN could be hacked from GeoHot and Anonymous and decided to attack the network with his own intentions in mind, and he easily could have left a red herring leading to Anonymous, since their intended lack of a face, voice, or any identifying feature makes them incredibly easy to impersonate. [/rant]
  • ThatGuyFromTV - May 5, 2011 12:16 a.m.

    what do you think are the odds that sony is outright lying about anonymous' supposed involvement? They don't seem to be above that at this point
  • FanofSaiyan - May 4, 2011 11:40 p.m.

    Didn't anon say they were trying to find a way to attack Sony without hurting the users? I'm pretty sure having Sony shut down PSN for an unprecedented amount of time is DOING JUST THAT!!! That being said, we don't really know if it is anonymous, though it wouldn't be surprising if they tried to take the credit...
  • brickman409 - May 4, 2011 11:27 p.m.

    "we are legion" ?!?!?!?! HOLY SHIT SATAN HACKED PSN!!!!!!!
  • xMau5x - May 4, 2011 11:07 p.m.

    Canada, eh
  • etherealshadow - May 4, 2011 10:32 p.m.

    You know I didn't notice at first but I think you're right n00b; that is a bible black cosplay.....I mean... uh...whatshtat? never heard of it. .>
  • ElwoodFiore - May 4, 2011 10:26 p.m.

    Well i can ashure you that xbox has jumped up 15% in the last week of users being online. Hence the tensity black ops is getting because alot of people are seeing sony as a lost cause now, getting DLC months afters it's already been released just adds to the ice cream sundae, And possible identity theft, I hope you guys understand one thing. Heres an example; I dont own a Credit card in MY name, however i endorse my checks into my mah's account and use the same card. Because this specifically shows either the user is underage and is useing a parents card, SONY MUST contact the parent/guardian and tell them that your son/daughter may of led you into identity theft, There gonna whoop there sons ass with a cord , when its not his fault. If you dont understand, In short, there pointing the finger at geohot, because HE was the one who released the source code in the first place, leading to the corresponding events of (SOE/PSN) everything is pointing at him, and he knows it. I' almost didnt even wanna sign up on this website useing my facebook page, because obviously its leading information. Hackers? They DO seem to have purpose in there own mind. Modders? Thats a diffrent story, i cant stand leaderboards on xbox because of cheating scams useing modio and flashdrives. Whoever did this to sony? I actually thank you, because hopefully the amount of mature users of playstation switch to xbox and get rid of the annoying kids. Yeah i typed this in about 2 mins, so mispellings, well if you can still read the word that means you understood it, think of it like a text message. HAha
  • n00b - May 4, 2011 10:16 p.m.

    i mean the girl in the pic is in bible black cosplay school uniform. noticed it the moment i saw it. ... actually i have no idea what that is.
  • 8bitBaby - May 4, 2011 10 p.m.

    @n00b *sigh*... yeah... i know what it is. but only because i have friends that think it's hilarious to give games like that as birthday presents. btw... it's not.
  • ChrisCultista - May 4, 2011 9:49 p.m.

  • n00b - May 4, 2011 9:27 p.m.

    hes its a bible black cosplay ... glad no one here knows what that is (hopefully)
  • narddog - May 4, 2011 9:24 p.m.

    Dear GR, I really appreciate the thorough coverage on the PSN security breach. I would really hate to follow mainstream media or watch the news. P.S. Mad props on the Dexter reference. Rest in Peace, Frank Lundy.

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