Police are warning people to be vigilant online following the hacking of millions of Sony PlayStation accounts worldwide.
Sony has warned that hackers stole password, birthday and other data about users of its PlayStation Network that connected PlayStation 3 (PS3) consoles to online games, films and more.
Up to 77 million accounts were compromised.
Detective Senior Sergeant John Michael says New Zealanders who have
accessed PlayStation accounts need to be on guard in the weeks ahead.
"I would advise people to contact their banks if they have concerns about unauthorised use of their credit cards," he said.
"We don't want to create unnecessary fear, but the sad fact is that by
being too free with personal information on the net, children in particular can become vulnerable unless their computer use is supervised.
"We always encourage people to be vigilant in computer use, now more than ever. Think first and be very wary of approaches by telephone, email or social networks, especially if it relates to personal information, including login and credit card details."
PlayStation Network and Qriocity streaming music service were turned off on April 20 in the wake of an "external intrusion," according to Sony spokesman Patrick Seybold.
While the cyber attack was still being investigated, Sony said it believed that PlayStation Network and Qriocity service users' names, addresses, birthdates, passwords, and email addresses were swiped.
"While there is no evidence at this time that credit card data was taken, we cannot rule out the possibility," Sony said in an email message being sent out to PlayStation Network and Qriocity users.
"It is also possible that your profile data, including purchase history and billing address (city, state, zip), and your PlayStation Network/Qriocity password security answers may have been obtained."
Sony shut off PlayStation Network and Qriocity to investigate the breach and bolster defences, according to Seybold.
"We have a clear path to have PlayStation Network and Qriocity systems back online, and expect to restore some services within a week," Seybold said.
Efforts to fix the situation include re-building the system to strengthen network infrastructure, according to Sony.
Players were still able to take part in games offline on the consoles, but lost the ability to challenge others on the internet, stream movies, or get other services.
PlayStation Network launched in November of 2006 and boasts about 75 million registered users.
Sony did not indicate whether it identified a culprit in the intrusion.
Internet vigilante group Anonymous had vowed retribution against Sony for taking legal action against hackers who cracked PS3 defences to change console operating software.
A message signed by Anonymous at website anonnews.org early this month announced an "Operation Payback" campaign aimed at Sony because of its cases against the two hackers, one of whom cut a deal to settle the case.
Anonymous argued that PS3 console owners have the right to do what they wish with them, including modifying them.
- AFP, NZHERALD STAFF