Hackers hit Sony Pictures France site, grab 177K e-mails

Sony Pictures France is the latest Sony site to suffer at the hands of hackers. This time 177K e-mails were taken. When will it stop?

Sony Pictures France is the latest Sony Web site to suffer at the hands of hackers. This time two hackers have claimed credit and say they copied more than 177,000 e-mails from the site.

The two hackers are identified as a Lebanese student called "Idahc" and "Auth3ntiq," a friend of his from France. They claim to have exploited a SQL flaw to get the information.

Idahc and Auth3ntic posted information about their feat, along with a sample of the e-mails they took, to the Web site Pastebin.com.

The hackers aren't doing anything new. The same sort of exploit was used to break into SonyPictures.com, Sony Pictures Russion and other Sony-owned sites in recent weeks. In fact, Idahc seems to be on a crusade to teach Sony a lesson about bad security.

In a recent interview on Forbes.com, Idahc said that he's attacking global Sony sites to demonstrate Sony's lax attention to security. "I don't hack for 'lulz' but for moral reasons," he said.

It's the latest in more than a dozen and a half attacks on Sony Web sites since Sony pulled its PlayStation Network offline in April, when the company discovered that as-yet unidentified hackers broke in and stole information about tens of millions of customers. Within days Sony discovered that its Sony Online Entertainment servers, which manage access to online PC games, had been similarly compromised. All told, more than 100 million customers had their names, addresses and other personal information taken.

In the wake of that failure, Sony executives pledged to improve security and to hire a new executive to head up security operations for the company. But hacker aren't slowing down their attacks on the company. What's causing the frequent attacks?

Sony is, of course, a high-profile target, as they've already suffered substantial damages by having to shut down network operations on the PlayStation Network for almost a month.

But there's more to it. Hackers' hackles were raised earlier this year when Sony sought to sue George "Geohot" Hotz, a programmer who tried to restore the PlayStation 3's "OtherOS" capability, which enables it to operate Linux. That's a feature Sony originally supported on the PlayStation 3 but later removed in a firmware update. After that, the hacker collective that calls itself "Anonymous" declared open war on Sony, only backing off after gamers themselves made their displeasure known.

Hackers' displeasure with Sony runs much deeper than that, however. Years after the fact, some harbor resentment about Sony BMG's decision to put rootkit-based DRM software on some of its music CDs back in 2005.

Now hackers are going after Sony with a vengeance. Like sharks detecting blood in the water, they're unlikely to let up any time soon, especially since Sony's chronically lax security makes them an easy target.