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Intro

Over the years, tech giant Sony has become a subject of hacking incidents and a player in data privacy violations that shook the worldwide news. From the 2011 Playstation network cyber hack, the 2014 cyber attack, and up to the alleged sale of its Crunchyroll users’ info, the Sony breach of privacy is a rollercoaster of hacking and settlements. The company might look like a victim of these cyber hacks, but in reality, it is the user and their data who suffer the most.

Key Takeaways:

  • Sony has been a target of two major data breaches — the 2011 PlayStation incident and the 2014 Sony Pictures Entertainment cyber hack.
  • In 2023, Sony allegedly sold Crunchyroll user data and viewing information to third parties, such as Facebook, Google, etc.
  • The 2014 cyber hack was deemed a national security matter by White House officials over North Korea’s involvement.
  • Whether you were affected or are just exploring options, you can check your eligibility for compensation.

The Sony Data Breach Explained

What Happened?

In 2011, Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC experienced its first data breach. Playstation users’ data and personally identifiable information were compromised when a group of hackers hacked into the network that Sony uses for its PlayStation services. Around 77 million accounts were affected over days, from April 17 until April 19 of that year, which forced Sony to stop the PlayStation servers for 23 days. 

The users initially had no idea that a major Sony breach of privacy was happening. On April 19, 2011, Sony’s network team noticed unauthorized activities, such as unscheduled system reboots, prompting them to do log reviews. The next day, the team discovered that data of some kind had been transferred from their servers without authorization and informed the users through its PlayStation blog that the network was undergoing maintenance.

The second major Sony data leak happened in 2014 and resulted in an $8-million settlement. A group of hackers who called themselves the “Guardians of Peace ” managed to hack into Sony Pictures Entertainment’s employee system, stealing personally identifiable information of its more than 6,000 former and current employees. The hacking was discovered by employees themselves when their screens showed the hacker’s message one Monday morning. The Social Security Numbers, names, addresses, medical information, and salaries of these employees were published on the Internet. 

In the 2023 Sony data breach case, Sony Pictures and video-streaming site Crunchyroll allegedly shared its users’ information with companies such as Google, Facebook, Adobe, etc., without consent. Not only personally identifiable information was shared but also the titles of the videos users watched, including their Facebook IDs, in violation of the Video Privacy Protection Act. 

This particular practice was uncovered by complainants through their own investigation of the HTTP single communication session codes sent from a device to Facebook, while the device was viewing a video on the Crunchyroll site. 

Timeline

2023 Crunchyroll Incident

  • 2023 December 12 – Deadline for eligible claimants to submit a claim form.
  • 2023 September 14 – Crunchyroll and plaintiffs reached a settlement agreement.
  • 2023 April 19 – Mediation started.
  • 2022 September 8 – A case was filed against Crunchyroll’s parent company Sony Group Corporation for the violation of the Video Privacy Act.

2014 Sony Pictures Entertainment Incident

  • 2015 (October 20) – Sony and its employees reached a settlement agreement of $8 million to indemnify the employees for identity theft, expenses for preventive measures, and legal fees associated with the cyberattack.
  • 2014 (December 18) – A 3rd class action lawsuit was filed by employees, alleging that they were left in the dark. 
  • 2014 (December 16) – A 2nd class action lawsuit was filed against Sony Pictures by employees. 
  • 2014 (December 15) – A class action lawsuit was filed against Sony Pictures by a former employee for the company’s failure to safeguard their personal information.
  • 2014 (November 27) – Salary information about Sony’s executives and employees was published. 
  • 2014 (November 24) –  Employees’ computer screens displayed the hacker’s (“Guardians of Peace”) message of warning, stating that they’ve got all their internal data.

2011 Playstation Incident

  • 2014 (July 23) – Sony reached a $15 million settlement.
  • 2012 (January 31) – A consolidated class action lawsuit was filed against Sony.
  • 2011 (May 2) – Sony issued a press release announcing that a criminal hack was responsible for the system’s outage.  
  • 2011 (April 27) – The first class action lawsuit was filed against Sony Computer Entertainment for failure to protect users’ right to privacy.
  • 2011 (April 20) – PlayStation and Qriocity services were suspended by Sony.
  • 2011 (April 19) – The Sony Computer Entertainment network team detected unusual and unauthorized activities in the network.
  • 2011 (April 17-19) – A group of hackers attacked the PlayStation network.

Will there be a compensation?

It’s common for large-scale data breaches to result in compensation for affected individuals. The exact Sony settlement amount may vary based on factors like the user’s location and the extent of the data breach.

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Am I Affected?

If you were affected, you should receive a data breach notification letter within 72 hours of its discovery. But, there have already been cases when these notices don’t get sent out at all, either as part of a cover-up to protect the company’s image or to avoid identifying users who might be entitled to compensation. So in case of a data leak, it’s a smart move to fill out the form and join the claim regardless. 

What To Do?

Whether you believe you were affected or are just exploring your options, you can quickly and easily check your eligibility and compensation amount with our quick data breach checker. In under two minutes, you’ll know how much money you can get and will be able to claim compensation. Give it a try!

Legal Proceedings and Sony Settlement

Being a tech giant in almost all aspects of digital entertainment, Sony encountered rough bumps along these data challenges and landed them in hot water globally. 

The first action on the 2011 Sony data breach involving PlayStation users was hinged on Sony’s failure to provide adequate safeguards to protect users’ information, particularly their financial information. Sony allegedly violated the Payment Card Industry Standards, the California Laws, and the Civil Code for failure to protect consumers’ data. 

The claim did not end there as Sony paid a fine of £250,000 in violation of the UK’s Data Protection Act as well. The first petition also claimed a breach of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, the Consumer Legal Remedies Act for breach of express warranty, the Civil Code for negligence, and California’s Business & Professional Code over Sony’s conduct. 

In the 2014 Sony data breach, employees alleged that Sony violated California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act, California Civil Code, and Virginia’s data breach notification law. They also alleged negligence on the part of Sony for failing to install practices to protect their information, on top of the violation of privacy under the California Constitution. 

In the 2023 Crunchyroll incident, Sony is alleged to have violated the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), wherein the law deems it illegal for video streaming sites to disclose their users’ data without their consent. Aside from other equitable reliefs, complainants prayed for $2,500 per class member, as provided by the VPPA in this claim.

In all these petitions, complainants also asked for damages for the compromise of their personally identifiable data and expenses for the suit, as well as other reliefs, as the court may deem proper.

Amidst these data violation incidents, Sony was not without a solution, even though it was rebuilding its compromised systems. It’s a tough legal battle as 65 class action suits were filed over the 2011 Sony privacy leak alone. 

But even big companies know how lengthy, tedious, and expensive a full-blown trial can be. Sony denied it was at fault for all the data breach incidents, alleged data privacy violations, and instead of arguing on trial, went to settle with the affected users and employees. After mediation, the tech giant approved the million-dollar settlements on the separate incidents and outlined eligibility requirements for the affected parties. 

How to Claim Sony Compensation

If you want to get compensation for the data breach, you need to join a group lawsuit, also known as a class action. When you do this, you’ll work with a financial litigation partner who handles everything for you. That is us! Your task is just to apply and then wait to get money

Remunzo handles all the hard work. We set up the lawsuit and take the corporation to court for you. Corporations don’t want to pay money easily, but Remunzo will fight hard to get your settlement payout. When joining thousands of others in a lawsuit like this, the corporation is more likely to pay and the settlement payment amount per person i.e. how much will you get tends to be higher.

Remunzo will keep you updated about the settlement status. But you need to be patient because it can take months till the settlement payments are done and you get paid

Quickly check your eligibility and compensation amount with our simple data leak checker. In under 2 minutes, you’ll know how much money you can get and will be able to claim compensation. Give it a try!

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Impact of the Sony Data Breach on Users

The government reacted heavily to the first two major Sony data breaches. After the 2011 PlayStation outage incident, political authorities demanded answers and accountability for the major data loss. Though there were reports of credit card fraud among users, Sony clarified that these reports were unsubstantiated. 

In the 2014 breach, White House officials labeled the incident a serious national security issue due to North Korea’s involvement. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) launched an investigation and confirmed that the attack originated from North Korea over the release of The Interview, a political satire movie. According to Sony employees, there was a grief-like mood in the workplace weeks following the 2014 cyber attack.

Sony’s Response and Changes in Data Security

Sony undeniably took this hacking seriously as it never failed to implement adequate measures to prevent another incident. After the 2011 PlayStation hacking incident, Sony added new software monitoring to defend itself against attacks and detect intrusions or other unauthorized activities, enhanced the levels of encryption, and implemented new firewalls. 

On the other hand, after the onset of the 2014 hacking incident, Sony summoned a premier cybersecurity company called FireEye. A dozen investigators and cyber experts were called to help mitigate the loss and track down the hackers. This Sony hack resulted not just in confidential data loss but also in loss of productivity in the workplace. 

Future Implications and Impact on the Industry

A security company consultant dubbed the 2011 hack as “one of the biggest data losses” that affected individuals not just in the US but around the world. After the 2011 cyberattack, pieces of evidence pointed to Sony’s obsolete and outdated systems, which the company denied. In the 2014 attack, hackers were said to have breached Sony’s network through malware.

Nevertheless, these unfortunate events emphasized the importance of companies’ due diligence and vigilance on their security systems. Security analysts suggested that a simple examination of Sony’s PlayStation security logs could have prevented the cyber attack. Analysts have also marked these events as a wake-up call for companies not to be lax over their IT practices and outdated security systems. 

Other Famous Incidences of Privacy Breaches

Sony is not the only one that had its data stolen. Hundreds of other companies have faced or will face data breaches in the future. Therefore, we strongly suggest using our Compensation Calculator. This tool will help you find out how many compensation claims you are eligible for and how much money you might get—and we can help you easily get it.

Conclusion

Sony’s tumultuous data breaches unmasked as data privacy violations are cautionary tales of early age and modern data theft. The 2011 PlayStation data breach ignited users’ fear that their credit and debit card details had been compromised. The 2014 Sony Pictures Entertainment hacking targeted the internal data in retaliation over the looming The Interview movie release. The recent 2023 Crunchyroll case is an outlier, for Sony was accused of selling users’ data. 

These major Sony breaches reveal the company’s lack of adequate privacy measures which, unfortunately, amounts to a violation of data privacy. Not only did these catch the attention of the whole world, but they also cost Sony a whole chunk of money as compensation for its users and employees to avoid a costly series of financial litigation.

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Are you missing out on other data breach payouts? Try our compensation calculator and find out now!

Frequently Asked Questions

How to minimize or prevent Data breach impact?

Using virtual payment cards with spending limits and unique email addresses for different services can greatly reduce the risks of data breaches. Disposable virtual cards protect your financial details, while custom email addresses (like “yourname+service@gmail.com”) help identify compromised services. These strategies add security layers, minimizing the impact of breaches on your personal and financial data.

What to do after a data breach?

In case of a data breach, promptly change your passwords on the affected accounts, making them strong and unique. Activate two-factor authentication for added security. Monitor your financial statements and credit reports for any unusual activity. Alert your bank or credit card provider about potential fraud. Be cautious of phishing scams following the breach and consider a credit freeze. Finally, report the incident to the appropriate authorities.

What is a Data breach notice?

A data breach notice is an official alert sent by an organization to individuals whose personal data, including potentially compromised passwords, may have been exposed in a security breach. Such a notice can often follow warnings from services like Apple or Google indicating that “this password appeared in a data leak.” It details the nature of the breach, affected data types, potential risks, and the organization’s remedial actions. The notice advises on protective measures, such as changing passwords and monitoring credit reports to mitigate harm.

Can I sue, and how to join a class action lawsuit?

Yes, you can sue for a data breach. With Remunzo, joining an active class action lawsuit is easy. Check your eligibility on our platform, and if your case is active, you can join the lawsuit. Remunzo handles all legal proceedings and negotiations for a settlement. These processes can take some time, but we keep you updated throughout. Use our Quick Data Leak Checker to see if you qualify to join and claim compensation.

When will I get paid the data breach settlement?

The time it takes to receive a data breach settlement payment varies, often taking several months after a settlement is reached. Factors like case complexity, number of claimants, and legal procedures affect the timeline. Remunzo will keep you informed about the settlement progress, but patience is key as these processes can be lengthy.

Sources

  1. Actions TC. Crunchyroll, Sony Pictures video privacy $16M class action settlement – Top Class Actions [Internet]. Top Class Actions. 2023. Available from: https://topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/closed-settlements/crunchyroll-sony-pictures-video-privacy-16m-class-action-settlement/ 
  2. Hess A. “Everything was completely destroyed”: What it was like to work at Sony after the hack [Internet]. Slate Magazine. 2015. Available from: https://www.slate.com/articles/technology/users/2015/11/sony_employees_on_the_hack_one_year_later.html 
  3. Osborne C. Sony settles PSN hack lawsuit for $15 million. ZDNET [Internet]. 2014 Jul 24; Available from: https://www.zdnet.com/article/sony-settles-psn-hack-lawsuit-for-15-million/ 
  4. Quinn B, Arthur C. PlayStation Network hackers access data of 77 million users. The Guardian [Internet]. 2020 Apr 16; Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/apr/26/playstation-network-hackers-data 
  5. Reed C. Sony Data Breaches: Full timeline through 2023 [Internet]. Firewall Times. 2023. Available from: https://firewalltimes.com/sony-data-breach-timeline/ 
  6. Robb D. Sony Hack: A Timeline. Deadline [Internet]. 2019 Sep 6; Available from: https://deadline.com/2014/12/sony-hack-timeline-any-pascal-the-interview-north-korea-1201325501/ 
  7. Shaak E. Sony Secretly Shares Crunchyroll Users’ Information with Facebook, Class Action Claims [Internet]. ClassAction.org. 2023. Available from: https://www.classaction.org/news/sony-secretly-shares-crunchyroll-users-information-with-facebook-class-action-claims 
  8. St James E, Lee TB. The 2014 Sony hacks, explained. Vox [Internet]. 2015 Jun 3; Available from: https://www.vox.com/2015/1/20/18089084/sony-hack-north-korea 
  9. Takahashi D. Chronology of the attack on Sony’s PlayStation Network [Internet]. VentureBeat. [cited 2024 Jan 9]. Available from: https://venturebeat.com/games/chronology-of-the-attack-on-sonys-playstation-network/ 
  10. Valens A. What’s the Deal With That Crunchyroll Facebook Lawsuit? [Internet]. The Mary Sue. 2023. Available from: https://www.themarysue.com/kroll-settlement-crunchyroll-crunchyroll-class-action-settlement-explained/ 
  11. Yin-Poole W. PSN: Sony outlines “Welcome Back” gifts [Internet]. Eurogamer.net. Available from: https://www.eurogamer.net/psn-sony-outlines-welcome-back-gifts 
  12. Beltran et al. v. Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc. d/b/a Crunchyroll [Internet]. Available from: https://www.crvppasettlement.com/ 

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    Our team counts over 80+ skilled lawyers from 8 countries and has many partner law firms working on your claims. You can trust us to take good care of your claims. We’re working to make a world where taking big companies to court is simple and just a few clicks away for everyone, no matter their budget, skills, or background. Our goal is to build a future where it’s easy for everyone to stand up for their rights and get justice.