Sony offers $1m identity theft insurance

By Alice O'Connor, May 06, 2011 6:00am PDT

As the Sony hack fiasco groans onward, the company has announced that it's arranged $1 million of identity theft insurance for members in the USA.

Sony has sorted out twelve months of coverage for PlayStation Network and Qriocity members through identity protection firm Debix's AllClear ID Plus scheme. Sony says it "will start sending out activation emails for this program over the next few days," then you'll need to sign up by June 18 to redeem the code.

Debix doesn't list the price of the 'AllClear ID Plus' package, which doesn't seem to be available otherwise. The somewhat similar 'AllClear ID Pro' scheme costs $9.95 per month.

Here's the highlights of the AllClear ID Plus package:

  • Cyber monitoring and surveillance of the Internet to detect exposure of an AllClear ID Plus customer's personal information, including monitoring of criminal web sites and data recovered by law enforcement. If his/her personal information is found, the customer will be alerted by phone and/or email and will be provided advice and support regarding protective steps to take. The customer will also receive monthly identity status reports. Debix works with an alliance of cyber-crime experts from the government, academia and industry to provide these services.

  • Priority access to licensed private investigators and identity restoration specialists. If an AllClear ID Plus customer receives an alert, or otherwise suspects that he/she may be the victim of identity theft, the customer can speak directly, on a priority basis, with an on-staff licensed private investigator, who will conduct a comprehensive inquiry. In the case of an identity theft, the customer can work with an identity restoration specialist to contact creditors and others, and take necessary steps to restore the customer's identity.

  • A $1 million identity theft insurance policy per user to provide additional protection in the event that an AllClear ID Plus customer becomes a victim of identity theft. This insurance would provide financial relief of up to $1 million for covered identity restoration costs, legal defense expenses, and lost wages that occur within 12 months after the stolen identity event.

However, it seems this program will not be offered to Sony Online Entertainment users, some of whom have also had personal data stolen.

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe is also working on arranging identity theft protection for members in its region.

The dreadful situation has also got Sony to wheel out Howard Stringer, president of Sony's entire American arm, to issue an open letter of apology.

"As a company we - and I - apologize for the inconvenience and concern caused by this attack. Under the leadership of [Sony Consumer Products & Services Group president] Kazuo Hirai, we have teams working around the clock and around the world to restore your access to those services as quickly, and as safely, as possible," Stringer wrote.

I know some believe we should have notified our customers earlier than we did. It's a fair question. As soon as we discovered the potential scope of the intrusion, we shut down the PlayStation Network and Qriocity services and hired some of the best technical experts in the field to determine what happened. I wish we could have gotten the answers we needed sooner, but forensic analysis is a complex, time-consuming process. Hackers, after all, do their best to cover their tracks, and it took some time for our experts to find those tracks and begin to identify what personal information had - or had not - been taken.

As for the return of PSN, yesterday Sony began "the final stages of internal testing of the new system," which it says is "an important step towards restoring PlayStation Network and Qriocity services."

The company still hasn't offered a timeframe on when we might expect it to relaunch, beyond Stringer's vague note that "In the coming days, we will restore service to the networks and welcome you back to the fun."

When PSN does relaunch, users will be given a 'Welcome Back' gift of free, yet-unspecified "selected PlayStation entertainment" and the somewhat empty gesture of a free month's PlayStation Plus subscription.

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