Sony has not been able to catch a break this holiday season. At least this time, it has company with which to share its misery. Only days after hackers breached its servers and made off with a flood of company e-mails, sensitive data, and copies of still-unreleased movies, its PlayStation unit found itself the victim of yet another cyberattack.
This time, however, it was not just Sony that suffered, but Microsoft as well, as attackers managed to shut down the gaming networks for both Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox. The distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, which flooded the two networks with traffic and crashed both systems, took place starting on Christmas Eve and made it impossible for users to connect their machines with other players.
Lizard Squad Strikes Again
Sony can at least take solace in the fact that it was not the only victim this time around. Nevertheless, it once again found itself looking hapless compared to its competition, as Microsoft was able to get its network back up and running by Friday, while Sony was still struggling. The company was finally able to resurrect PlayStation Network Monday morning, but some users reported still having difficulty connecting.
The attack was perpetrated by a group, or individual, referring to itself as Lizard Squad, which targeted both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. The attacks were finally called off on Friday after renowned pirate, entrepreneur, and Internet personality Kim Dotcom offered Lizard Squad 3,000 Premium MegaPrivacy vouchers from his company, Mega, which provides secure storage and encryption services.
No Connection to Guardians of Peace
Lizard Squad has started to make a name for itself following its takedown of several other services earlier this year using similar DDoS-style attacks. It has managed to take down fellow gaming sites Battle.net and League of Legends, the Vatican's Web site and, yes, a prior attack on Sony PlayStation Network.
In fact, the hacker or hackers behind Lizard Squad seem to have something of an obsession with the company. In addition to the DDoS attacks, Lizard Squad also succeeded in causing a flight that was carrying John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment, to be delayed by claiming on Twitter that someone had planted explosives onboard. It also broke into the company's servers and uploaded a picture of the ISIS flag, although Lizard Squad is not believed to be involved in the Islamist militant group.
Unfortunately for Sony, it is starting to gain a reputation as an easy target to hack. In addition to the attacks executed by Lizard Squad, it is also still recovering from one of the worst data breaches in U.S. history, when the hacker group Guardians of Peace broke into Sony Entertainment's servers in apparent retribution for the company's decision to release "The Interview," the James Franco and Seth Rogan comedy involving an assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The U.S. government has said it believes the North Korean government was behind the Guardians of Peace group.
However, there seems to be no connection between the Guardians of Peace attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment and Lizard Squad's DDoS attack on Sony PlayStation Network.