"We recently broke into SonyPictures.com and compromised over 1,000,000 users' personal information, including passwords, email addresses, home addresses, dates of birth, and all Sony opt-in data associated with their accounts," the group said in a Pastebin post. "Among other things, we also compromised all admin details of Sony Pictures (including passwords) along with 75,000 'music codes' and 3.5 million 'music coupons.'"
The group released 150,000 records gleaned during its attack, saying it didn't have time to copy more. Those records also include material taken from exploited databases for Sony BMG in the Netherlands and Belgium, which contained further information about website users as well as employees.
"From a single injection, we accessed everything," said the group. "What's worse is that every bit of data we took wasn't encrypted. Sony stored over 1,000,000 passwords of its customers in plaintext, which means it's just a matter of taking it."
The records were released via a MediaFire file download, the LulzSec website, as well as via BitTorrent. By early Friday, however, the MediaFire file had been "removed for violation" and the group's website was unavailable, despite the group's boasts via Twitter about how its CloudFire backup would prevent the website from becoming unreachable.
LulzSec is the same group that posted fake news on the PBS website on Saturday in retaliation for a PBS Frontline documentary's portrayal of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, and Bradley Manning, who's accused of providing WikiLeaks with massive amounts of classified information.
The Sony Pictures data exposure is the latest in a string of embarrassing data breaches suffered by Sony. Multiple Sony websites, including its PlayStation Network, were breached beginning in April, leading to more than 100 million user accounts being compromised, and at least one class-action lawsuit as a result.
In the wake of those attacks, seeing another Sony website property being compromised via a basic vulnerability "sounds like a broken record," said Chester Wisniewski, a senior security advisor at Sophos Canada, in a blog post. "Worst of all the hackers are exposing over a million people to having their accounts compromised and identities stolen simply to make a political point."
What should Sony Pictures website users do? "The takeaway for the average Internet users is clear," said Wisniewski. "Don't trust that your password is being securely stored and be sure to use a unique password for every website to limit your exposure if hacks like these occur."
Businesses should likewise be prepared, by ensuring that they can't be breached via the types of vulnerabilities that have scuttled Sony websites. "Sony seems to have been compromised in such a negative and severe way, I'm concerned that other organizations won't use this as a warning sign to analyze their defenses, and will instead adopt an 'it won't happen here' mentality," said Ron Gula, CEO of Tenable Network Security, via email. "I've already seen executives in different verticals offer excuses that explain-away why Sony's issues don't affect their customers or employees--which is very alarming."
In this new Tech Center report, we profile five database breaches--and extract the lessons to be learned from each. Plus: A rundown of six technologies to reduce your risk. Download it here (registration required).