Sony's PlayStation Network to reopen in Asia on Saturday

Only PSN customers in South Korea and Hong Kong will remain offline after the weekend

Sony's PlayStation Network online gaming service will reopen for millions of gamers across Asia on Saturday, more than five weeks after it was taken offline following a cyber attack.

Sony pulled the plug on the PlayStation Network and the companion Qriocity audio and video streaming service on April 20, a day after detecting what it later called a "very sophisticated" intrusion.

When service resumes on Saturday in Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, there will only be two more countries where service is still offline: South Korea and Hong Kong. Sony is still in discussions with authorities in those markets and can't name a date for the resumption of services in the two countries.

"It's going to take a little while longer," said Satoshi Fukuoka, a spokesman for Sony Computer Entertainment in Tokyo.

Gamers in Asia were kept waiting while Sony briefed authorities in several countries on the hack and its response, but service returned for users in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand on May 14 and 15.

The incident began when an unknown hacker or hackers penetrated three firewalls to get inside Sony's system and steal data on all 77 million registered accounts.

The stolen data included user names, e-mail addresses, login IDs and passwords. It was originally feared that millions of credit card numbers had also been leaked, but a subsequent computer forensics investigation failed to find any evidence that the credit card database had been accessed by the attacker, said Sony.

PlayStation users are required to download a firmware update for the console before they can reconnect to the network. Then, as a security measure, users must change their password upon login.

Sony has initially resumed a subset of the full PlayStation Network and Qriocity services. Back online are: online gaming, playback of already rented video, "Music Unlimited" online audio streaming, access to third-party services like Netflix and Hulu, PlayStation Home and friends features such as chat.

Full service is expected to resume in all markets, except South Korea and Hong Kong, by the end of May.

The attack and Sony's response to it will cost the company around ¥14 billion (US$170 million) this financial year, it said Monday. That includes the cost of calling in several computer security companies, a rebuild of its security system, identity theft monitoring for users in some countries and the offering of several free games to users.

Martyn Williams covers Japan and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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