PlayStation Network the Setting for Hacker Duel: Xbox Live Next?

By Steve Anderson August 25, 2014

While for most, the thought of warfare on the PlayStation platform is limited to those kinds of games that allow it—the newest installment of “Call of Duty”, perhaps—this weekend proved to host quite a different kind of warfare: the kind staged between hackers. The PlayStation Network suffered an outage this weekend, though just who was responsible for the event seems to be in question. Worse, it may not be the only major gaming network to suffer an outage in the coming days.

On Sunday, the PlayStation Network reportedly suffered a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, which forces Web servers through a gauntlet of bogus traffic generated in a bid to swamp the servers' activities and keep actual paying customers out of the network. A DDoS attack isn't a hack in the most commonly believed sense of the term—it requires no actual access to the system and no one's personal data is really compromised—but a DDoS attack all the same can cripple a company's operations, much as it did here. This one left players offline for several hours, and Sony originally offered up word via Twitter that the network was simply undergoing some maintenance. Later, however, the company admitted that the attack had taken place, but that, following some investigation, there seemed to be no evidence of intrusion or loss of data. That, subsequently, was when the war began.

Originally, credit for the intrusion was taken by what appeared to be a hacker group going by the name Lizard Squad. Lizard Squad is also reportedly implicated in a separate event from American Airlines on Sunday involving a bomb threat aboard one particular flight that resulted in the Dallas to San Diego flight getting diverted to Phoenix. The flight, oddly, contained—among other passengers—John Smedley, the president of Sony Entertainment Online. The group then retweeted the passengers' angry tweets about the event via Twitter. But Lizard Squad wasn't alone in taking credit for the attack, as another hacker known as “Fame” stepped in to claim credit, and in turn criticized Lizard Squad for its own credit. Fame even offered up a video in which the claim was made that the attack was launched in a bid to point out “security failings” in the PlayStation Network and beyond. That alone made the waters muddy enough, but both Fame and Lizard Squad subsequently released a set of tweets suggesting that Xbox Live may be next.

With Labor Day weekend only a few days away, it's going to be a huge blow to any network that's offline for any length of time not only going into it but also during it. Plenty of Americans out there will want to take advantage of the long holiday weekend to enjoy online gaming, and if Xbox Live goes down, that's going to be plenty of gamers who won't be able to at all. But with some advance warning in hand, it may be that Microsoft can fend off the oncoming hordes of fake traffic and potentially rebuff the kind of attack that took down PlayStation Network, which took its attack seemingly without warning.

This isn't good news for anyone out there, so for anyone looking to make gaming a part of the upcoming long weekend, it would likely prove a good idea to have a backup strategy in mind so that the weekend isn't lost should the networks succumb. Hopefully, though, this combination of advance warning and the nature of hacking altogether will mean that any loss here is minimal.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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