Sony expects to spend at least $171 million over breach

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The breach of Sony's PlayStation Network will end up costing the electronics giant at least $171 million, according to a preliminary financial forecast released Monday.

Expenses related to the compromise, which also affected Qriocity and Sony Online Entertainment services and exposed the personal information of more than 100 million people, likely will rise, but these are the latest estimates for the fiscal year ending in March 2012, the company said.

Sony said it expects to rack up costs related to identity theft protection for victims, discount "welcome-back" programs, customer support, network security additions and improvements, and lawyer and other expert fees. The company also anticipates a profit hit due to a revenue decline as a result of the breach.

Anticipated losses already tower over those experienced by other companies that experienced massive breaches, including TJX and Heartland Payment Systems.

Not included in the $171 million figure are the expenses related to defending against a number of class-action lawsuits that already have been filed or are expected in the near-term.

Despite the size of the compromise, among the largest reported breaches of all time, Sony said it is not aware of any resulting identity theft or credit card fraud.

The breach, however, was just a drop in the bucket compared to the impact the devastating Japan earthquake had on Sony's bottom line. Before the disaster, Sony had predicted an $854 million profit for the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2011, but now expects to post a $3.2 billion loss, according to the forecast.

Full earnings are due out Thursday.

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