The PlayStation Network is back online … for now.
The global gaming service used by 110m people was brought down on Christmas Eve, seemingly by a hacking group calling itself Lizard Squad. On Sunday however, Sony assured customers via its PlayStation blog that the system was now functioning.
The company also admitted for the first time that the disruption was caused by hackers who used a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack to flood the PlayStation servers with traffic, bringing access to a halt.
“As you probably know, PlayStation Network and some other gaming services were attacked over the holidays with artificially high levels of traffic designed to disrupt connectivity and online gameplay,” read the post. “This may have prevented your access to the network and its services over the last few days.”
Microsoft’s Xbox Live infrastructure was also attacked, reportedly by the same group, which revelled in its achievement via a series of tweets throughout Christmas day. However, the Xbox online infrastructure was functioning again by Boxing Day.
Formed in mid-2013, Lizard Squad has been stepping up its media profile in the wake of the Christmas attacks. In a series of interviews, two self-declared founding members have claimed that their motivations are amusement, and to highlight the security weaknesses of the systems.
“If I was working [at Microsoft or Sony] and had a big enough budget, I could totally stop these attacks,” “Ryan Cleary” (a pseudonym borrowed from an infamous LulzSec hacker) claimed to tech news site Daily Dot. “I’d buy more bandwidth, some specific equipment, and configure it correctly. It’s just about programming skill. With an attack of this scale, it could go up to the millions. But that’s really no problem for Sony and Microsoft.”
Speaking to Sky News, “Cleary” added, “These companies make tens of millions every month from subscriber fees and that doesn’t even include purchases made by their customers.
“They should have more than enough funding to be able to protect against these attacks.”
Lizard Squad has claimed that its actions against Sony and Microsoft were more sophisticated than standard DDoS attacks, which don’t usually require hackers to gain access to the target’s online infrastructure.
“There’s plenty of people saying we’re not hackers and DDoS isn’t hacking. For attacks of this scale, you can’t really do them without either having access to insane amounts of funding or being able to gain access to the computers via hacking,” “Cleary” said to Daily Dot. “You can’t just do DDoS attacks from your home computer. It doesn’t work.”
The group has even suggested that it has access to undersea cables that facilitate internet connections between the US and Europe.
But its appetite for fame may prove to be Lizard Squad’s undoing, after security journalist Brian Krebs claims to have uncovered the possible true identities of at least two members, both of whom have conducted TV interviews in the wake of the attacks.
Millions of people could not use their games consoles for a second day as disruption on the Xbox Live and Sony Playstation networks continued after an apparent cyber-attack.
A group calling itself Lizard Squad claimed responsibility for bringing down both networks on Christmas Eve, which could have affected nearly 160 million gamers.
Even an intervention by eccentric internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, who offered the hackers free lifetime use of his file storage service, does not appear to have ended the attack. Known as a distributed denial of service, or DDOS, the attack is overloading the systems of both services by generating fake access requests.
Such an attack can prevent people from playing games even when they have a physical copy as newer consoles often require online authentication as an anti-piracy measure.