The PJ Tatler

Sony PlayStation Gaming Network Crippled by Christmas Day Cyber Attacks

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Update: It appears that Lizard Squad has suspended the DDoS attacks after file sharing service Mega’s founder Kim Dotcom offered the group 3000 premium accounts to leave the gaming sites alone. Lizard Squad announced on Twitter that they’ve accepted the offer and have ended the attacks. Reports of service disruptions have dropped significantly since the announcement.


Gamers who tried to log onto their Sony PlayStation Network or Microsoft XBox Live accounts to play their new systems on Christmas Day were greeted by error messages saying the networks were offline. Reportedly, both companies have been hit with distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks in which botnets flood networks with tens of thousands of requests for service, creating more traffic than networks can handle. The attacks come on a day that networks are typically already strained and traffic is high.

Sony began reporting problems in the afternoon on Christmas Eve:



A group of malicious programmers calling itself Lizard Squad claimed responsibility for the attacks (which technically are not considered hacking) on Twitter. The anonymous group said they are the “next generation Grinch.” They promised to end the attacks in return for new Twitter followers and retweets.

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On Tuesday,  Polygon reported on a rivalry between two groups involved in a planned Christmas “hacking war”:

The turmoil started in August when Lizard Squad made a bit of a name for itself by claiming responsibility for Blizzard and PlayStation Network outages and a tweeted bomb threat which diverted the flight of Sony Online Entertainment head John Smedley.

The group returned in September, claiming responsibility for attacks on the servers for a slew of games including Call of Duty: Advanced WarfareDestiny and Grand Theft Auto Online. Then on Dec. 1, the group said it once more took the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live offline.

The group tweeted that it was preparing for a larger attack at Christmas and that the Dec. 1 attack was just a “small dose of what’s to come.”

No one has verified exactly who is responsible for what in these outages.

On Dec. 2, a new hacker group surfaced. The Finest Squad said it would prevent the promised attack by Lizard Squad and dismantle the group by outing its members and turning them in to police.

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Sony, which owns the PlayStation gaming network, released the controversial film The Interview at several hundred theaters across the country on Christmas Day and some are speculating that the attacks are in retaliation for the release. Sony also made the film available for purchase at online platforms like Google Play, YouTube, and XBox Live (though it is not yet available on Sony’s free streaming video platform).

DownDetector, a website that reports status information and outages for online networks, shows the problems with the two networks over the last 24 hours. Sony has experienced ongoing outages beginning on Christmas Eve and continuing at the time of this post. The attacks on Microsoft have been more sporadic, though it appears they have been hit with a new wave of attacks late on Christmas Day.


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A group called FinestSec claims to be tracking the movements of Lizard Squad:


Neither Sony nor Microsoft has commented on the source of the attacks, though both have continued to update  customers throughout the day: