Sony Hackers Stole $253M Worth of Music Files

It appears that hackers who breached Sony’s networks last year absconded with more than just the personal information of millions of Sony PlayStation users. They also stole more than 50,000 music files, including Michael Jackson’s entire back catalog of published music, as well as previously unreleased tracks.

The lost music is estimated to be worth around $253 million, according to the Daily Mail. Sony discovered the theft within weeks of its occurrence, but kept the news under wraps, though the Jackson estate was told of the breach at the time. Because no personal customer data was stolen, Sony was not required to publicly disclose the breach.

Sony discovered the hack through routine monitoring of social networking sites, Michael Jackson fan sites and hacker forums, according to the Mail.

Sony purchased the Jackson catalog in 2010, a year after the singer’s death, giving the music giant rights to the catalog for seven years as well as permission to release 10 new albums of his work. Among the previously unreleased tracks reportedly stolen by the hackers were duets with of the Black Eyed Peas and Freddie Mercury, the deceased former lead singer of Queen.

The hackers also obtained songs by Jimi Hendrix, Paul Simon, the Foo Fighters and Avril Lavigne.

Sony has acknowledged the breach to the BBC, but refused to say how many Jackson files the hackers had downloaded. Sony still possesses copies of all the music, and the breach does not affect its ability to still release albums and individual songs that were taken by the hackers.

The breach occurred last April, around the same time hackers broke into Sony’s PlayStation Network. In that breach, hackers stole the personal data of 77 million registered online gamers and also gained access to credit card data, though Sony insisted that the latter was encrypted and therefore useless to the intruders.