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Sony says hackers’ hackles rose over content protection

Company faces new lawsuit for laying off employees responsible for network security

Lesson of the day: Protecting your data from tech-savvy gamers may result in them retaliating and breaking down your firewalls. That seemed to be the gist of the message delivered today by Sony CEO Howard Stringer in a meeting with the company’s shareholders.

Sony’s database was breached in April, resulting in the theft of personal information belonging to 77 million PlayStation user accounts.

According to reports, Stringer told shareholders that he believes the company was in hackers’ crosshairs because it tried to protect its intellectual property—in this case, video games. He added that this information was a corporate asset, and said there are many people who believe this should be unprotected and free.

Stringer has reportedly been under fire for not resigning his post after what’s been hailed as the world’s largest-ever security breach, but he did not address this concern during the meeting.

While the CEO neglected to address his critics’ calls, a group of recently terminated employees have raised their voices against the company. A group of three former workers in Sony’s network operations center, which was responsible for securing the hacked user data, say the company let them go two weeks before the breach, along with 202 other employees.

The three men, who filed suit in a California federal court, also allege that Sony knew customer data was at risk and didn’t do enough to protect it, choosing to invest in securing its own corporate data instead. The case, Cotorreal et al v. Sony Corporation Inc. et al, seeks class-action status.

The company also is weathering a salvo of additional suits from scores of disgruntled users. InsideCounsel reported in early May that at least 25 lawsuits had been filed against Sony in U.S. federal courts over the breach.

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