How to check if Sony Pictures hack affects you

Gizmodo has put up a web form where users can check to see if their personal details were stolen

A few computer clicks is all it takes to learn if you were a victim of the Sony Pictures hack attack, but be careful.

Gizmodo has a created a form where you can type in your email address and see instantly whether the LulzSec hackers know where you live, your date of birth, phone number, and more.

Sony confirmed in a statement that a group of criminal hackers known as LulzSec claimed to have breached some of its websites. Sony said a breach had indeed occurred and the company has taken action to protect against further intrusion.

As with the PlayStation Network hack, Sony said it was hiring a "respected team of outside experts" to make things right, but observers question why such experts aren't already in place among Sony's staff.

LulzSec claims the hack exploited extremely basic deficiencies, such as storing passwords in plain text rather than encrypted.

It's not clear from Gizmodo's write-up if they have access to all LulzSec's hacked data, which includes over 1 million records, or whether it's the 51,000 or so account details already released and freely available.

The hackers apparently were only able to download a portion of what was available. Users of SonyPictures.com are left hanging as to whether their personal details are part of the haul.

Gizmodo, which has experience dealing with the authorities as demonstrated last year with the stolen iPhone 4 prototype, said it won't store the email addresses you test. Still, you will want to be cautious. Its site hardly has a first-class record when it comes to security, having itself been hacked at the end of last year.

There may be a far better way of checking user details against stolen data, as was illustrated by security researcher HD Moore, who provided a way for users to check their data against the Gizmodo theft. Moore required users first encrypt their data on a third-party website before checking it against a publicly accessible Google Docs spreadsheet that contains similarly encrypted data. This way no data was revealed, nor was anybody able to log it.

Sony's been a regular victim of hack attacks recently with the PlayStation Network, Qtrocity, Sony Online Entertainment, Sony Ericsson, and a Japan-based ISP subsidiary all falling victim. Experts are divided as to whether this is down to a sustained hacker campaign against the entertainment giant or whether Sony's systems simply have poor security. The hardware hacker that may have inspired the run of attacks and who cracked the PlayStation 3's encryption system, George Hotz, recently claimed that Sony had itself to blame for the attacks.

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Keir Thomas

PC World (US online)

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