Sony Online Entertainment’s problems mount as they reveal that the personal information of 24.6 million customer accounts was compromised and 12,700 credit card numbers stolen. The simple fact that anything like this can happen will be causing a few sleepless nights at other companies in the industry. No more so, I suspect, than at Amazon and Apple who between them have hundreds of millions of card numbers on file. Apple alone, at my last recollection, had over 100 million active credit card accounts.
While the theft of information on this scale is a disaster for the host company, it causes a lot of inconvenience and stress to individuals who have to cancel their cards and wait for replacements. And let’s not forget the implications for the credit card industry. Imagine the situation at Visa or Mastercard when 100 million customers suddenly try to cancel their compromised cards.
If we had any sense we wouldn’t leave our card details on record, even with Mr. Apple. But it’s just so convenient. We jib at entering our password every time we buy a track or download a free app, so there’s no way we’re going to withdraw that credit card. All we can do is rely on retailers’ security. In the case of Sony, though, this reliance was somewhat misplaced.