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Sony CEO Howard Stringer Defends Network Attack Response Time

Sony CEO Howard Stringer Defends Network Attack Response Time

May 17, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi

A candid Howard Stringer has spoken publicly about last month's cyber attack on Sony's servers, defending the company's response time for alerting its customers as being faster than historic examples.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday (via Reuters), the CEO said that the approximate one-week period between Sony's awareness of the attack and its public notification that account data may have been stolen was acceptable, if not downright quick.

"Most of these breaches go unreported by companies," said Stringer. "Forty-three percent notify victims within a month. We reported in a week. You're telling me my week wasn't fast enough?"

Critics of Sony's response time, as well as its handling of its customers' personal data, include U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the entirety of a House of Representatives Subcommittee, Australia privacy minister Brendan O'Connor, the office of the UK Information Commissioner, and several customers involved in class-action lawsuits in the United States and Canada, among others.

Stringer also commented briefly on how much the attack hurt the company financially, though a figure was not yet determinable, he said.

"There's a charge for the system being down ... a charge for identity theft insurance," he said. "The charges mount up, but they don't add up to a number we can quantify just yet."

This is not the first time Stringer has defended Sony's response time following the incident: in an open letter to its affected customers posted earlier this month, Stringer apologized for the attack, but defended the company's response time by outlining the challenges of analyzing the breach.

"I wish we could have gotten the answers we needed sooner, but forensic analysis is a complex, time-consuming process," he wrote at the time. "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."

Sony's PlayStation Network is now partially restored, and is up and running in some capacity in all countries excluding Japan. On Monday it outlined its "Welcome Back" program, offering free games to its affected customers.

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