Online Game Networks Hacked, Sony Unit President Threatened

UPDATE: Sony’s PlayStation Network, the online service that connects PlayStation 3 and PS4 videogame consoles to the Internet and to over-the-top video services such as Netflix, has been down much of the day after a distributed denial-of-service attack left the network inaccessible to users. Hackers also attacked the Microsoft’s Xbox Live service, Santa Monica-based League of Legends  and other game sites.

In taking credit for the takedown, a group calling itself Lizard Squad tweeted that it had initiated the online attack on the game networks because of the U.S. bombing of Islamic extremists in Iraq that go by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL. It warned that explosives might be on the plane of Sony Online Entertainment President John Smedley, who was traveling today to San Francisco.

The American Airlines plane flying from Dallas to San Francisco was diverted to Phoenix, all passengers deplaned and luggage searched, according a series of tweets and photos.

Smedley later tweeted:

He also posted a tweet explaining part of the problem with the DDOS attack, which generally involves enlisting thousands or even tens of thousands of remotely compromised computers to simultaneously attempt to access a site, overwhelming the site’s ability to respond to legitimate visitors. In this case, Smedley seems to suggest the attacks are not on the network itself but on other pinch points in the Internet, interrupting the ability for users to reach PSN itself.

Sony’s Australian unit posted a link to a brief statement on the DDOS attack:

Like other major networks around the world, the PlayStation Network and Sony Entertainment Network have been impacted by an attempt to overwhelm our network with artificially high traffic.

Although this has impacted your ability to access our network and enjoy our services, no personal information has been accessed.

We will continue to work towards fixing this issue and hope to have our services up and running as soon as possible.

We regret any inconvenience this may have caused.

PSN has been crippled by computer attacks before. In 2011, the service was down nearly a month after an egregious security hole exposed personal information for 77 million users, at the time one of the largest computer break-ins ever. The company was criticized for taking a week to announce the incursion, which forced the company to develop a firmware upgrade for its PlayStation 3 consoles and PSP portable game machines.


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