XBOX LIVE, THE SONY PLAYSTATION NETWORK and Blizzard were all disrupted this weekend by distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, while a Sony executive had his plane diverted by a terror alert.
It is not known who mounted the attacks or why, but the DDoS assault is a common and relatively easy to pull off protest. A couple of online accounts have claimed responsibility, but no concrete evidence is available.
The attacks were quite significant, though, and caused disruption to the gaming networks.
Just to let you know we're aware of the current connection issues and that we're working to resolve them as soon as possible.— BlizzardCS (@BlizzardCS) August 24, 2014
Sony confirmed that the problem was a denial of service attack in a blog. In the same post it said that the issues were sorted, and apologised for the downtime.
Reports suggest that a hacker group called the Lizard Squad is behind the attacks that disrupted online gaming. A Twitter account associated with the group apparently confirms this, as well as the ISIS motivation.
— Lizard Squad (@LizardSquad) August 24, 2014
Sony's John Smedley was perhaps the most affected, however. Soon after tweeting about the ongoing DDoS attack he announced that he was due to board a flight. Then he followed up with a report that the flight had been diverted.
"Yes. My plane was diverted. Not going to discuss more than that. Justice will find these guys," he said. Later he suggested that it was the trolls, rather than some of the more politicised groups that had been mentioned as possibly being behind the assaults.
"I wish the national media would stop letting these DDoS trolls' occasional use of the ISIS crap be taken seriously," he said.
"Seeing news accounts that make it sound like that's serious. Media please don't get trolled. Those ISIS guys are pure evil and shouldn't be conflated with trolls."
The Lizard group suggested that it was also responsible for the flight diversion.
We have asked Microsoft for information about the events at its end and are waiting for a response. Information on its Xbox Live status pages suggested that players were having problems connecting with other gamers online. Microsoft also hinted at problems with Battle.net communications, which is presumably a knock-on from assualts on Blizzard.
According to Lancope CTO TK Keanini, a DDoS attack is easy to launch and see some success.
"Today this method of attack is available to anyone as it is offered as a service. If you know where to look, and you have some crypto currency in hand, just point and shoot," he said.
"Sony and other game networks have to work harder than most to remain secure as they are incredibly attractive targets. Not only are they high profile with any disruption making the news, but given all the in-game commerce, millions of credit cards and personal information is kept up to date and can be monetized by these cybercriminals." µ