Following this afternoon’s reports, it is evident that Sony was hacked twice last year and one of the hackings resulted in the theft of Michael’s material. The songs stolen were 2010 purchases from the deal between Sony and the Michael Jackson Estate.
Michael Jackson’s entire back catalogue and a wealth of unreleased material worth €190 million has been stolen from Sony music by hackers in a second major security breach at the company within a year.
The hackers allegedly downloaded more than 50,000 digital music files in the biggest ever cyber attack on a record company.
Sony paid the Jackson estate $250 million dollars for a seven year deal in March 2010, nine months after the singers death aged 50.
The contract allowed for 10 new new albums including unreleased material from the studio sessions that produced the classics Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad.
Some of the previously unheard material includes duets with artists ranging from the late Freddie Murcury of Queen to the Black Eyed Peas singer Will.i.am.
“Everything Sony purchased from the Michael Jackson estate was compromised”, said a well placed source.
Hackers attacked Sony’s Playstation Network in April and stole the personal data of 77m users, including some credit card details. Sony’s share price fell and the security scandal cost it €127m and huge damage to its reputation.
The Jackson hack was discovered weeks after the Playstation hack but has not been revealed until now. It was discovered only from routine monitoring of social networking sites, Jackson fansites and hacking forums.
“It caused them to check their systems and they found the breach. There was a degree of sophistication”, the source added. “Sony identified the weakness and plugged the gap.”
The theft has implications for all living and dead Sony Music artist. The company distributes the Jimi Hendrix back catalogue, and its roster of artists includes Paul Simon and Leonard Cohen as well as newer acts such as Olly Murs, Chris Brown, Foo Fighters and Avril Lavigne.
The hack coming so soon after the previous cyber attack “would have made investors and artists think, “What other part of Sony isn’t secure” said the source.
Sony Music confirmed last night that it had been hacked and its Michael Jackson material stolen. The company refused to say how much was downloaded.
A Sony source said the company immediately alerted the Michael Jackson estate after the hack but had no obligation to make the theft public as it had not involved customer data.
The hackers allegedly left “fingerprints” on the server that allowed experts to identify IP addresses in the UK, the Sony source added.
The company then contacted the cybercrime wing of the Serious Organised Crime Agency, who took over the case.
Two men appeared in court this week charged with offences under the Computer Misuse Act.
They denied the charges and were remanded on bail.