* Data of 24.6 mln accounts hacked on PC games system
* Fund manager says CEO Stringer should resign
* Debit card records for 10,700 users in Europe taken - Sony
* Facebook games also suspended
* Japan markets shut, shares off 4 pct since revealing
By Isabel Reynolds and Liana B. Baker
TOKYO/NEW YORK, May 3 Sony CEO Howard
Stringer faced harsh criticism of his leadership after the
consumer electronics conglomerate revealed hackers may have
stolen the data of another 25 million accounts in a second
massive security breach.
Also under growing pressure was Kazuo Hirai, the likely
successor to Stringer and who had spearheaded the development of
Sony's networked businesses until March, when he was promoted to
the number 2 position as executive deputy president.
Sony's latest revelation came just a day after it
had announced measures to avert another cyberattack like that
which hit its PlayStation Network two weeks ago.
The Japanese electronics company said its Sony Online
Entertainment PC games network had been hacked on April 18, but
it did not find out about the breach until the early hours of
Monday. It shut down the service shortly afterwards.
The breach may also have led to the theft of 10,700 direct
debit records from customers in Austria, Germany, the
Netherlands and Spain and 12,700 non-U.S. credit or debit card
numbers, it said.
Investors said Sony and 69-year-old chief executive Stringer
had botched the data security crisis, a further blow for the
company which has struggled to match recent hit products from
rivals including Nintendo , Samsung Electronics
and Apple Inc .
"The way Sony handled the whole thing goes to show that it
lacks the ability to manage crises," said Michael On, a fund
manager at Beyond Asset Management in Taipei, who does not own
Sony shares. "The current CEO should step down after the hacker
problems and the company's failure to push out products that are
Welsh-born Stringer, a former TV producer who was knighted
in 2000, has not commented on the security breach, leaving Hirai
to lead a news conference and apology on Sunday. Stringer in
March committed to stay in his role for the current year at
Hirai may not escape the fiasco unscathed, said another fund
manager, who sold Sony shares last year and was not authorised
to talk publicly about the company.
"The leadership of Sony is not in a good place right now,
which could lead to Stringer stepping down and may sabotage
Hirai's chances of succeeding as the CEO," said the Taipei-based
The attack that Sony disclosed on Monday took place a day
before a massive break-in of its separate PlayStation video game
network that led to the theft of data from 77 million user
accounts. Sony revealed that attack last week.
The PlayStation network lets video game console owners
download games and play against friends. The Sony Online
Entertainment network, the victim of the latest break-in, hosts
games such as "EverQuest" played over the Internet on PCs.
Sony said late on Monday that the names, addresses, emails,
birthdates, phone numbers and other information from 24.6
million PC games accounts may have been stolen from its servers
as well as an "outdated database" from 2007.
Sony spokeswoman Sue Tanaka, asked whether other data could
be at risk, listed the precautions the company has taken such as
firewalls, but added it could not be certain.
"They are hackers. We don't know where they're going to
attack next," Tokyo-based Tanaka said.
Sony is trying to repair its tarnished image and reassure
customers who might be pondering a shift to Microsoft's
The PlayStation Network incident has also sparked legal
action and investigations by authorities in North America and
Europe, home to almost 90 percent of the users of the network.
On Monday, Sony declined to testify in front of a U.S.
congressional hearing, but agreed to respond to questions on how
consumer private data is protected by businesses in a letter on
Tuesday, said a spokesman for Mary Bono Mack, a Republican
Congresswoman from California, who is leading the hearing.
SONY FACEBOOK GAMES DOWN
The incident that Sony disclosed on Monday also forced it to
suspend its Sony Online Entertainment games on Facebook.
Sony posted a message on Facebook saying it had to take down
the games during the night.
Facebook games make money from microtransactions and the
sale of virtual goods like costumes and weapons.
It was not immediately clear if the data theft included data
from players of Sony games including "PoxNora," "Dungeon
Overlord," "Wildlife Refuge" on Facebook.
Facebook could not immediately be reached for comment.
The servers for both the Online Entertainment unit and the
PlayStation Network are based in San Diego but are completely
separate, said Sony's Tanaka.
Sony denied on its official PlayStation blog on Monday that
hackers had tried to sell it a list of millions of credit card
The news comes less than a week after Sony alerted customers
that a hacker broke into Sony's PlayStation video game network
and stole names, addresses, passwords and possibly credit card
numbers. Sony alerted customers a week after discovering the
Sony executives apologized on Sunday and said the company
would gradually restart the PlayStation Network with increased
security and would offer some free content, pleasing a number of
its users. [ID:nL3E7G101C]
Other users were less forgiving.
"Well, as much as I think what the hackers did was downright
criminal, the fact of the matter is they have done a marvellous
job of showcasing Sony's ignorance," one contributor named Tokyo
Guy posted on the Engadget technology website.
"And really, the point needs to be made that if Sony is this
incompetent, then they deserve to be sued and fined and lose all
their money. It's pathetic."
(Additional reporting by Edwin Chan in Los Angeles, Alexei
Oreskovic in San Francisco, Chyen Yee Lee in Hong Kong and Faith
Hung in Taipei; Editing by Richard Chang and Lincoln Feast)