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In a public letter to Sony PlayStation and Qriocity customers, Sony USA's chairman Howard Stringer has apologized for the inconvenience and concern created as a result of a massive data breach that has affected up to 100 million users worldwide.
In his letter, Stringer emphasizes the company's strong commitment to investigate the nature and extent of the incident, and to fully restore services after it is safe enough to do so.
To make good for their inability to safeguard customer data, Stringer says that a $1 million dollar identity theft insurance for U.S. PlayStation Network and Qriocity customers has come into effect immediately. The program, which was detailed in a recent PlayStation Blog post, will extend AllClear ID Plus services offered by identity protection firm Debix, to all PSN and Qriocity account holders for 12 months at no cost. Instructions are being mailed out to U.S. account holders who need to activate the insurance by June 18th. The insurance will include cyber monitoring and surveillance, priority access to private investigators and identity restoration specialists, as well as coverage of $1 million identity theft insurance per user.
While a similar program has not been announced for other countries, including here in Canada, Sony has stated they are "working to make similar programs available in other countries/territories". For now we'll have to sit tight.
Interested in knowing the regional breakdown of PSN account holders? Here's the top five countries worldwide:
1. United States - 31,140,307
2. Great Britain - 9,296,317
3. Japan - 7,427,038
4. France - 4,701,424
5. Canada - 3,524,227
Given the sheer size of the customer base in Canada let's hope Sony is looking at insurance programs applicable to users here. The full breakdown by region can be see in this post on Joystiq.
Also supported in Stringer's letter is the previously announced "Welcome Back" program that Sony is offering worldwide to all users of the PSN and Qriocity. The exact package given out will be region-specific, but expect these central components announced on the PlayStation Blog:
- Selected PlayStation entertainment content for free download. (Specific details of this content will be announced in each region soon.)
- 30 days free membership in the PlayStation Plus premium service. Current members of PlayStation Plus will receive 30 days free service.
- Qriocity subscribers (in countries where the service is available) will receive 30 days free service.
The announcement also said that "additional" entertainment and service offerings will be rolled out over the coming weeks as part of the Welcome Back program, however details were not given.
For a company that has been beaten pretty bad as a result of the cyber-attacks, Sony is coming back strong with incentives to lure back customers to the PSN and Qriocity services. Will it be enough to win back the hearts of gamers? Video game analyst Michael Pachter from Wedbush Securities doesn't think Sony has much to worry about, telling the International Business Times: "Once the network is back up and secure, and once people calm down and realize they didn't lose anything, the damage will largely be repaired." Pachter also that HD gaming console rival Xbox 360 will gain little from the PSN outage, stating that the few thousand who may subsequently choose an Xbox 360 over a PS3 will amount to nothing more than a "rounding error".
Stringer ended by saying that Sony is committed to "protecting your information better than ever" and that getting gaming fans back online where they can play games and consume great entertainment is their focus.