It’s nearly December 25, and that can only mean one thing: Hackers are talking about ruining the holiday season for gamers again.
Last year, the now-notorious hacking group Lizard Squad launched a DDoS attack against Xbox Live (XBL) and PlayStation Network (PSN). It’s a way of overwhelming a service with malicious traffic, thereby crashing it — and Lizard Squad’s attempts were successful, leaving both gaming networks offline for Christmas day, and with PSN suffering from difficulties for days afterwards.
A year later, and the hacking group is signalling that it is preparing to carry out a similar attack again. On December 18, a Twitter account associated with Lizard Squad retweeted a tweet indicating it is planning to target PSN and XBL at Christmas.
Multiple people in the loose-knit hacking community told Business Insider they believe Lizard Squad is planning out such an attack. Back in November, @LizardLands sent two tweets (which have since been deleted) claiming that the group is preparing for its “holiday activities.”
Lizard Squad also claimed responsibility for an outage of PSN during Black Friday — though it’s not clear whether this was actually their doing, or the result of a surge of holiday-related traffic.
On December 16, XBL went down, with another hacking group — Phantom Squad — claiming responsibility on Twitter. Using their now-deleted account, they said that Sony and Microsoft need to “improve their security.”
Phantom Squad’s website was subsequently defaced by another hacking group, and a “dox” has been circulating — a document containing the alleged personal information of the group’s members. Softpedia reports Phantom Squad is planning to try and take down XBL and PSN consistently between December 24 and December 30.
Last time around, controversial file-sharing entrepreneur Kim Dotcom tried to “save Christmas” by giving Lizard Squad 3,000 vouchers for his site Mega in return for stopping the attack — effectively paying a ransom.
The logic behind the attacks is obvious: XBL and PSN are a huge, challenging target, and taking them down during Christmas causes maximum disruption for all the people who have just given/received games consoles as presents. If the attackers can make a profit in the process — all the better.
People are responding to the threats and hacker in-fighting with a mix of worry and disappointment:
Sorry for no video today. I’m recording as much footage as I can right now since hacks likely want to DDos PSN/XBL during Xmas. Hope not.
— NykeFaller (@NykeFaller) December 20, 2015
Phantom squad planning to take down Xbox live and psn on Xmas day. Noooo I need my Christmas noobs!!!!
— FunkTeeZee Gaming (@FunkTeeZee) December 18, 2015
Looking forward to some “hacker” bell-ends binning PSN and XBL on Christmas Day. Yay for them.
— Patrick Garratt (@patlike) December 21, 2015
Microsoft declined to comment. Sony did not respond to a request for comment.