Sony will fully restore PlayStation Network service to users in Japan this week, ending a two-and-a-half month suspension of service, and bringing to a close an embarrassing incident that began with the largest known loss of customer information by a company.
Users in Japan will be able to access all functions of the PlayStation Store and Qriocity services from July 6, Sony said. The PlayStation Store is an online shopping mall offering games and video to PlayStation users, while the Qriocity service offers video content to Internet-linked consumer electronics devices like televisions.
The services were suspended worldwide on April 20 when Sony detected a sophisticated intrusion had hit one of its data centres.
An investigation established that attackers had managed to bypass three firewalls to steal data on all 77 million registered accounts. The stolen data included user names, email addresses, login IDs and passwords. It was originally feared that millions of credit card numbers had also been leaked, but Sony later said it was unable to find any evidence that the credit card database was accessed.
Sony asked users to change passwords, and to date it says there have been no reports of unauthorised credit card usage linked to the attack.
The attack left Sony reeling, and the services were offline for weeks while the company rebuilt its security system. Sony reintroduced service in stages, with online gaming first being switched on for users in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand in the middle of May. That followed for users in Asia in June, and PlayStation Store service was subsequently restored for users in all regions except Japan.
The PlayStation Store remained offline in Japan while Sony discussed the data breach with authorities and briefed them on its new security system, said Satoshi Fukuoka, a spokesman for Sony Computer Entertainment. With progress made in those discussions, Sony is now able to resume service.
When that happens on Wednesday, the service will be fully restored globally to the same level as before April's attack.
The attack and Sony's response to it is estimated to cost the company around ¥14 billion (£108 million) this financial year. That includes the cost of calling in several computer security companies to investigate the attack, the rebuild of its security system, identity theft monitoring for users in some countries, and the offer of several free games to users.