x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Internet game over

Online security is under scrutiny after hacker steals personal information of 77 million gamers from Sony Playstation network.

The phrase "Global Village" has been around since 1962, when Marshall McLuhan used it in his book Understanding Media to describe a world that was shrinking thanks to technological advances. In the 1990s, it came to represent a metaphor for the World Wide Web. Today, with mobile technology, Skype and social networking, in many ways we are much closer together. But if this is a village, it's one with a crime problem.

As the brave new world grows, the risks are high. A lone hacker in a basement can break into a secure network, and millions people around the world suffer the consequences.

In what may be the biggest breach of its kind, Sony revealed this week that the personal data of more than 77 million online gamers with accounts on its PlayStation Network had been stolen. It took two days to discover that an "illegal and unauthorised person" had accessed information that included e-mail addresses, logins and security passwords. At this point, Sony is claiming that the breach has not involved credit card fraud. Regardless, it does not take a computer genius to see the danger.

The UAE has the highest web penetration in the region and increasingly commerce is done online. The details of Sony's vulnerability are still being investigated, but it emphasises a worldwide problem. If consumers are going to participate in this community, companies and their cyber-security have to do a better job patrolling the village.