Sega latest target of hackers' attacks

Sega Corp. has become the latest Japanese company to have its operations illegally accessed by hackers.

The company confirmed on Sunday that hackers were able to get past its security systems and enter the web site of its London unit, Sega Europe Ltd., to access personal information. The Tokyo-based company - which is famous for game titles such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Monkey Ball - said data on all of the 1,290,755 registered users had been accessed.

The data largely covers its customers in Europe and North America and includes names, birth dates, e-mail addresses and encrypted passwords. The company said users' credit card data had not been stolen.

"We deeply regret that we have invited a situation like this," the company said in a statement released in Tokyo. "We will put the highest priority on tightening security and make efforts to recover the confidence" of users.

The hackers' attack was first identified on Thursday, targeting the Sega Pass web site, which is mainly focused on delivering news on Sega's newest products. The site was shut down immediately after the attack was confirmed and all users' passwords have been reset.

This latest case of online data theft comes after similar breaches of security at game-maker Square-Enix Holdings - also through the company's London subsidiary - Nintendo and Sony Corp.

In early May, Sony announced that it would be gradually resuming services through its PlayStation Network over the following weeks after hackers gained access to an estimated 100 million accounts of people who had signed up for online services.

Sony responded to that attack with new security measures and a promise to track down those responsible. The company has been working with law enforcement organizations in Britain, Australia and Hong Kong to identify the hackers.

To quell discontent among users of its online systems, Sony launched an unprecedented give-away of free downloads and access to premium games and music to "welcome back" its customers.

JR

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