26 Aug 2014

PlayStation hackers admit blaming IS was ruse

Hackers who attacked PlayStation gaming servers and grounded a plane have told Channel 4 News that, contrary to media reports, they are not linked to Islamic State jihadists and are based in the US.

Computer keyboard (Getty)

Sony’s online PlayStation gaming network was forced offline by hackers this weekend, with Xbox Live and World of Warcraft servers also hit, frustrating gamers unable to get online. Blogging service Tumblr was attacked by the same source this morning.

Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Lizard Squad hacking group.

The method of the attack was DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service), with hundreds of users or a network of “bots” flooding a server with too many requests, and thereby forcing it offline.

Lizard Squad wrote on Twitter: “Today we planted the ISIS flag on @Sony’s servers #ISIS #jihad.”

Media attention

Newspapers and websites accepted this and ascribed the attack to the Islamic State, despite the Twitter page of Lizard Squad showing none of the hallmarks of genuine IS activity, and hackers frequently using such satire in order to get the attention of the media.

Lizard Squad also claimed responsibility for a bomb threat which led to the plane carrying head of Sony Online Entertainment John Smedley being grounded.

Lizard Squad had tweeted: “.@AmericanAir We have been receiving reports that @j_smedley’s plane #362 from DFW to SAN has explosives on-board, please look into this.”

United States location

Talking to Channel 4 News, LizardSquad administrator known as “Komodo” initially said: “We hope IS gains full control. The calphate will rise.” When Channel 4 News corrected Komodo’s spelling of caliphate, the otherwise-anonymous hacker opened up.

“We already hit CNN and ABC over here,” Komodo said of media coverage of the attack, giving away the user’s location in the US.

When questioned specifically on the point that the IS link is false and that the attack was actually about Sony’s profits, Komodo said: “Something like that,”

Later on in a chatroom on the Lizard Sqaud website, a user asked: “What’s up with this jihad s**t”. A Lizard Squad member called Dragon said: “That’s a troll. The media fell for it.”

Sony’s John Smedley said on Twitter: “I wish the national media would stop letting these DDOS trolls occasional use of the ISIS crap be taken seriously.

“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.”

Sony said: “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.”