Hackers who last week broke into the website of television network PBS have turned their attention to Sony's movie division, publishing what appeared to be the email addresses and passwords belonging to at least 50,000 consumers who registered for online promotions.
A group called LulzSec claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was achieved by exploiting a simple SQL injection vulnerability on the Sony Pictures website. The group claimed the single attack exposed information for more than 1 million people, but that the group lacked the resources to copy such a massive amount of data.
"What's worse is that every bit of data we took wasn't encrypted," the group wrote in a press release announcing the hack. "Sony stored over 1,000,000 passwords of its customers in plaintext, which means it's just a matter of taking it. This is disgraceful and insecure: they were asking for it."
A Sony spokesman said the company is looking into the claims, but provided no other comment.
LulzSec is the same group that took credit for breaching security at PBS.org last holiday weekend in retaliation for a documentary it claimed was unfair to whistle-blower website WikiLeaks. The pranksters published usernames and hashed passwords for website administrators and users, and they also posted a hoax news story claiming that dead rapper Tupac Shakur was alive and living in the same New Zealand town as nemesis Biggie Smalls.
The group has also hacked Sony’s Fox.com and stole hundreds of employee passwords along with the names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of some 73,000 people who requested audition information for the upcoming talent show The X-Factor.
The compromise of Sony Pictures is the latest embarrassment for Sony, which has suffered a series of devastating hacks since being targeted for its scorched-earth legal campaign against people jailbreaking the PlayStation 3 game console. All told, the attacks have exposed personally identifiable information for more than 100 million Sony customers and cost Sony at least $171 million.
The personally identifiable information contained in Thursday's data dump appeared to belong to people who signed up for promotional campaigns involving AutoTrader.com, Sony's "Summer of Restless Beauty," and a “Seinfeld — We’re Going to Del Boca Vista!” giveaway. ®