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Shocking: Sony Learned No Password Lessons After The 2011 PSN Hack

from the sony-is-as-sony-does dept

The great Sony hack of 2014: what's it all about? Is it a subversive plot by North Koreans operating out of China in revenge for a film starring two guys from Freaks and Geeks? Or maybe it's simply fodder for stupid politicians to remind us that all the world's ills could be cured if only internet service providers took on the challenge of fixing all the things in all the places? No, my dear friends, no. The Sony hack of 2014 is a beautiful Christmas gift (your religious holiday may vary) of a wake-up call to anyone silly enough to think that Sony would bother to learn the lessons very recent history has tried to teach it.

To prove this, one need only review the latest file dump in the leak, which features the wonderful naivete of whatever bright minds are in charge of Sony's internal password conventions and storage policies.

In a small file titled "Bonus.rar," hackers included a folder named "Password." It's exactly what it sounds like: 140 files containing thousands upon thousands of private passwords, virtually all of them stored in plaintext documents without protection of any kind. Some seem personal in nature ("karrie's Passwords.xls") while others are wider in scope ("YouTube login passwords.xls"). Many are tied to financial accounts like American Express, while others provide access to corporate voicemail accounts or internal servers, and come conveniently paired with full names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails.


In case you're unfamiliar with the hack against Sony's Playstation Network a mere three years ago, the problem was -- you guessed it -- the exact same thing. In that case, the hack produced customer names, addresses, emails and login/password information because that information was stored in plain text, contrary to the advice of every competent network security person on the planet. Take, for instance, one security researcher quoted in the link above:

Passwords in plaintext? These guys are pretty bad - I don't think I've ever encountered this before. What's the point of using common password storage/hashing techniques if your staff is keeping all your passwords in plain text on open fileshares? Shit, why bother having locks on the doors at all?
The worst of all the problem's this hack revealed is that this question should have been answered in the wake of the events of three years ago. It's one thing to screw up. It's quite another to screw up in a manner that went public in a spectacular way and simply refuse to take measures to ensure it doesn't happen again. But that's Sony for you: long live plain text.

Filed Under: hack, password, sony hack
Companies: sony, sony pictures


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  1. identicon
    coward (anon), 5 Dec 2014 @ 3:46pm

    Re: If one division in a large corporation sneezes, it does not mean the rest gets shots

    Well said. As someone who worked for Sony Network Entertainment during the 2011 hack I can tell you that while SNEI made a lot of long overdue changes following that hack, other Sony properties, like Sony Pictures (SPE), probably weren't even aware that we had been hacked. Other than licensing issues related to selling/renting SPE movies there is no communication or commonality between the 2 divisions.

    I also believe that this hack and the sorts of data that were stolen is far less due to it being Sony and more a common problem with movie studios. The people who work at studios are extremely both non-technical and not interested in becoming technical. Passwords only exist because the IT nerds like making everyone else's life miserable. So the simplest way to keep track of multiple passwords is to put them in a text file and share them. What I find far more unfathomable is why were there DVD quality digital copies of upcoming movies accessible on a network connected to the internet? Normally one would expect those sorts of assets to be kept isolated via an air gap.

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