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Internet Technology

In order to reach a wide customer base in the global market, a majority of corporations are using the internet to sell their products to their customers. Through their websites, companies communicate with their customers by availing the relevant information that the customers need, concerning online purchasing among other issues. Companies also make certain via various security techniques and tools that company data, as well as data from the customers, are kept secure. However, despite the efforts that corporations are making to ensure data security, security breaches are still being reported, thanks to technological advancement. This paper focuses on Sony Corporation that faced a security breach in 2011. Sony is a global company, which is amongst the key manufacturers of electronic products worldwide, and is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan (Sony Corp. Info, 2011).

In the 2011 Sony hack, a significant amount of individual data was exposed. Sony revealed that the security breach was the largest in the company history, with close to 77 million users PlayStation Network and 24.5 million Sony Online Entertainment users being affected (Sony Corp. Info, 2011). Nearly 10,700 debit records of consumers from Spain, Germany etc., which included consumer’s names, numbers of bank account, addresses etc. were stolen. According to the company, the information was stored in an out-of-date database from 2007 (Sony Corp. Info, 2011). Other personal information of customers that was stolen includes credit card information, dates of birth, usernames, logins, passwords as well as e-mail and physical addresses. The issues that are discussed in this paper include an evaluation of Sony’s website in terms of the product information, contact information of the corporation, how the products are customized for the customers as well as information of the customer at purchase. In addition, other areas of discussion include Sony’s internet marketing strategies, the competitive advantage, provided by its website, an evaluation of the company’s privacy policy, how the company responded to the security breach, and a recommendation on two tools that will guarantee improved security of the company’s customers.

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Evaluation of Sony’s Website

According to Sony Corp. Info (2011), Sony has provided full relevant information on its website to its customers, concerning its products and services. The company’s website is evaluated, based on the following:

Product Information

The company has effectively developed its website in a manner that attracts consumers to buy its products. Sony has provided all the significant product information on its website for easier online inquiries and purchases of products by customers. The information provided includes major categories of products, sold by the company, including examples in each category. Examples of products, offered by Sony, are electronics (TV), mobile phones (Sony Ericsson), and Games (PlayStation) among others (Sony Global, 2010).

Sony’s Contact Information

Also available in the company’s website is all the relevant and latest contact information, concerning the company and its various stores. This has made it easier for Sony’s customers to communicate with the corporation 24/7. For customers who want to buy products from Sony stores close to them, the website provides adequate information on how to connect to a Sony Group Company near them by choosing the product category they wish to purchase and their regions/countries (Sony Global, 2010). Sony’s contact information for both online and offline stores are up to date and have helped numerous customers purchase the various products they need with ease.

Customization of Products for Customers

Through its website, Sony has provided contacts, through which customers can give feedback or ask questions on the company’s products and services. Sony uses the feedback it gets from the customers to improve and customize its products to suit the various needs of the customers (Sony Global, 2010). Areas of customization include product color and size among others. For instance, Sony sells laptops of different colors, including red, blue, black, grey etc.

To make purchases online, Sony requires their customers to provide their personal information as well as credit card information. Some of the customer’s information required to make online purchases include name, e-mail and physical addresses, locations, and credit card number among others (Sony Global, 2010).

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A Description and Evaluation of Three Internet Marketing Strategies of the Corporation, and the Competitive Advantages, Provided By Its Website

Sony’s Internet Marketing Strategies

Sony employs various internet marketing strategies to market its products and services to its customers such as online tutorials, online videos as well as social media marketing. Offering online tutorials is the most recent marketing strategy of the company (Sony Global, 2010). The strategy began a few years ago with the company, offering its initial online course in digital photography. The company has, then, added other courses such as personal computing as well as home entertainment. Website users have a chance of perusing the company’s products, while receiving tutorials on specific subjects. According to recent research, over 15% of people who receive Sony’s online tutorials end up purchasing one or more of Sony’s products (Sony Global, 2010). The company also has online videos, showing the customers how to use various products step-by-step. Sony also has an online live chat service, through which customers can communicate directly to the support team of Sony, concerning the various issues they have. Majority buyers of Sony’s products are youths who are more into the social media compared to other network sites; therefore, Sony is using the social media such as Facebook, Tweeter etc. to market its products, especially to the youth.

The Competitive Advantages, Provided by the Corporation’s Website

Sony has designed its website in such a manner that its customers can get all the information they need about the company as well as its products and services. This information is not only helpful to online shoppers but offline shoppers as well, who are able to get contacts of the nearest Sony companies near them. In addition, the website has also enabled the company to market its products to more customers of all types via methods such as social media marketing, online tutorials etc. (Sony Global, 2010). The website has enabled Sony to be open and free with its customers through provision of all the relevant information to the customers, which, in turn, has increased the loyalty and trust of the customers significantly, leading to increased customer base and sales.

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Analysis and Evaluation of the Sony’s Privacy and Security Policy and the Corporation’s Response to its Breach of Security

Sony’s Privacy Policy

In dealing with personal information, Sony adheres to the relevant laws and regulations as well as the Protection of Personal Information Act (Sony Corp. Info, 2011). The company uses the personal information of an individual only within the required extent to attain the purpose of use which is pre-specified. In acquiring personal information, Sony vividly notifies a person of the required information like name, contact details of user etc. as well as to obtain approval, when seeking for such information (Sony Corp. Info, 2011). In addition, Sony makes an effort to improve its internal compliance systems, in addition to regularly updating its Privacy Policy, and appointing competent administration officials of personal information (Sony Corp. Info, 2011). The company also ensures that the entrusted personal information is correct to the extent, required for its purpose. In line with the current technical standards, the company takes suitable and required security control measures to ensure that entrusted personal information is protected from unlawful access, loss, alterations, and leakages among others (Sony Corp. Info, 2011).

Sony did not respond immediately to the security breach as expected; it released a statement to the customers one week after its security breach (April 26, 2011), telling them of the hacking of their personal information by unpermitted persons (Sony Corp. Info, 2011). The information included the customers’ names, physical and e-mail addresses, dates of birth, usernames, passwords etc. Two weeks following the hacking, Sony organized a press conference, in which the company apologized to its customers and offered to give them identity theft protection service at no fee. The company also stated that it would think about assisting customers who needed new credit cards (Sony Corp. Info, 2011).How the Corporation Responded To the Security Breach

A Recommendation of Two Methods and/ or Tools for Ensuring Increased Security for Customers

Sony can improve the security of its customer’s personal information by using SSL. According to Westwood (2011), SSL, which is also known as Secure Socket Layer, prevents unauthorized persons from obtaining personal information of customers through data encryption, as well as demanding for verification over the web. In addition, SSL Certificates now come with HackAlert service as part of the package (Westwood, 2011). This will help alert Sony of any hacking attempts, hence, enabling it to increase its web security.