Gaming giant Sony has been fined £250,000 by the data watchdog for a breach that compromised the personal information of millions of PlayStation users.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) issued the penalty after it found an attack on the Sony PlayStation Network (PSN) in April 2011 could have been prevented (see the PlayStation users' data stolen in hack MSE News story).

Personal information including customers' payment card details, names, addresses, email addresses, dates of birth and account passwords were exposed.

PSN members were offered free games after they were locked out of the service following the hack.

David Smith, ICO deputy commissioner and director of data protection, says: "If you are responsible for so many payment card details and login details, then keeping that personal data secure has to be your priority.

"In this case that just didn't happen, and when the database was targeted – albeit in a determined criminal attack – the security measures in place were simply not good enough.

"There's no disguising that this is a business that should have known better. It is a company that trades on its technical expertise, and there's no doubt in my mind that they had access to both the technical knowledge and the resources to keep this information safe."

The ICO adds that following the breach, Sony took steps to ensure the personal information it processes is kept secure.