Research conducted at the Infosecurity Europe show last month reveals that – with almost a fifth of IT managers surveyed playing computer games – Sony has potentially seriously damaged its reputation with the data breaches on its two gaming names, the PlayStation Network and Online Entertainment Network.

With reports in the New York Times that the price of card credentials has fallen significantly in the wake of the data theft and the paper also asserting that card details – and other credentials – were lifted during both breaches, Sony’s reputation is in tatters.

The stories have really been flying around this past few weeks, with some media outlets talking in terms of as many as 100 million names, addresses, user IDs, passwords, dates-of-birth – and large quantities of debit and credit numbers – falling into the wrong hands.

What is perhaps worse – if that were possible – is the seriously inept way in which Sony has handled the double whammy of two of its leading online services being hacked, which has resulted in its management reputation also being trashed.

The research, which took in responses from 300 IT managers, found that 48 respondents said they played computer games in their spare time. A further 15 users said they watched football, and another 6 said they played extreme sports, with 8 managers undertaking all three activities in their leisure time.

The bottom line here is that 56 – 18.67 per cent – of the 300 IT managers surveyed said they played online games, which means that, since these guys – and girls – are the key influencers when it comes to IT purchasing decisions in their respective organisations, Sony has done itself no favours.

This is especially true in the case of the Sony PSN as after several weeks of investigations and releasing minimal information to subscribers, the service remains offline with no apparent prospect of coming back any time soon.

This is a multi-faceted issue for Sony. Not only have they cheesed off their userbase – many of whom work in the IT sector – by losing their credentials, but they are preventing those same users from enjoying their leisure time online.

This is a classic case of royally upsetting – on multiple fronts – the very people who are key influences on purchasing Sony kit and services in a business environment. The brand and other reputational damage that Sony has done – and continues to do – is incalculable.