PSN Down, Caused by a Stupid Prank? [UPDATED: Services Restored]

A variety of major gaming companies, including Sony, may be the victim of coordinated distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, according to Sony’s President, Shuhei Yoshida. The ‘group’ that has claimed to have carried out the attacks calls themselves the ‘Lizard Squad’.

Basically, a DDoS attack saturates a targeted network or machine with communication requests to the point that the service or user has to shut their equipment down.  If you frequently watch streams on Twitch.tv and Azubu.tv chances are you have seen one of your favorite broadcasters striken by one of these attacks, and they have likely recovered from the incident in no more than a few hours later.

To clarify, a DDoS attack is NOT hacking.  Hacking, while often spoken and heard of as being used for nefarious purposes, is an actual skill that involves the infiltration and potential stealing of information from super complex computer systems.  DDoS is not infiltration.  It is incapable of obtaining information from the services, unlike what happened in the attack by the group ‘Anonymous’, carried out some years ago.

Anyone can actually perform such an attack after a good amount of reading, with little skill and knowledge about how computers and their network systems operate.  Also, you’d probably have to have a little too much free time on your hands.  DDoS attacks also require a decent amount of luck.  I will not go into detail here, because DDoS attacks are a methodology used by trolls who are often just seeking attention.  I do not feel the group deserves the attention they clearly desire, and for that reason I have refused to include links to their social media, or their ‘reasoning’ for doing all of this.  Their methods are childish, and can be discerned to have spawned from the worst kind of pranking these days, such as swatting.

The ‘Lizard Squad’ also sent out a bomb threat for the American Airlines flight that Sony Online Entertainment President, John Smedley, was on board.  But to those who may presume that this group would have hacking capabilities, having called in the bomb threat for such a specific flight, all that need be applied is some low level logic.  John Smedley sent out a tweet that he would be in air for three hours without wifi.  Applying such details when searching for a flight in addition to simply googling where the SOE President works from could easily give them the information they needed for the threat.

[John Smedley Twitter UPDATE:]

We at Middle of Nowhere Gaming have been in discussions about these issues and have drawn some further conclusions that may help to abate some users concerns during this hopefully short down time:

  • As mentioned, a DDoS attack is not hacking, and unless this group is actually capable of performing the skill, chances are your information is safe.  However if you’d like to protect yourself, it is smart to change or delete said info, even if only for today.
  • Much like a regular broadcaster on Twitch would be capable of recovering from the attack so should Sony, but there are extenuating factors that could lead to a little more down time:
  • While Sony is a massive corporation, and it could be expected for them to recover faster from this issue, they’re just dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s.  Since they are such a large company they’ll want to resolve why this happened and look into preventative measures.  The same can likely be assumed for the other companies affected.
  • Bare in mind, after the Anonymous attack that nearly crippled the network, Sony will likely be incredibly thorough in investigating this issue (Or at least I would demand so if I ran the company).
  • Sony had maintenance scheduled for tomorrow.  Why create downtime for two days in a row as opposed to just one.  While it will be an inconvenience for today, a day when more people are likely to play, the inconvenience already requires downtime.  Might as well apply the scheduled maintenance today as well.
  • Whether they have chosen to apply tomorrow’s maintenance today or not, it is seemingly reasonable to expect the Flash Sale to be extended by a day or so.

ddosattack2

Other sites that received distributed denial of service attacks today also included Blizzard (World of Warcraft, Diablo, StarCraft, etc.), Riot (League of Legends), and Grinding Gear Games (Path of Exile).  [LINKS] It appears however, that Sony is ‘Lizard Squad’s’ primary target.

https://twitter.com/BlizzardCS/status/503468723693314048

As listed above, three of the four companies have responded in kind to the attacks.  We will continue to keep you updated as more information surfaces, as well as providing our own take on the issues as they develope.

Update (7:55 PM CST): After this article was typed and almost completely edited it turned out that the same group made their same ‘attack’ on Xbox Live.

Update 2 (10:20 PM CST): It seems PSN services are slowly returning!


Scott Deisner is an Associate Writer for MONG.  He enjoys story and character driven content above all else, things made from potatoes, and long walks on sandy beaches ;P  You can follow him on Twitter.

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