Microsoft’s Xbox Live and Sony’s PlayStation Network were both the targets of DDoS attacks by Lizard Squad during the Christmas holiday. The acts were particularly heinous as Lizard Squad — the group that claimed responsibility for the attacks — picked perhaps the worst time to attack the networks.
First of all, it took place during a time when most Microsoft and Sony employees were at home with their families for the holidays instead of working on mission-critical projects in the office. Secondly, people that received shiny new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles for Christmas were unable to get online to play their new games.
Lizard Squad justified its actions as a means to prompt both Microsoft and Sony to upgrade their security measures, and a Christmas Day attack would be sure to “anger and reach the largest amount of people -- more people, angry calls for a greater response from the companies."
The attacks were called off after Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom offered 3,000 lifetime premium Mega accounts to the Lizard Squad. While some definitely questioned the wisdom of rewarding the hackers for their dastardly deeds, Kim Dotcom obviously saw things differently:
Attacks were stopped around 2 hours ago, the current downtime is just the aftermath.— R.I.U. Lizard Squad (@LizardMafia) December 26, 2014
Xbox Live services were fully restored on Friday, but Sony’s PlayStation Network was still experiencing connectivity issues — until today. Catherine Jensen, a Sony Entertainment VP took to the company’s blog to announce the full restoration of PlayStation Network services.
“As you probably know, PlayStation Network and some other gaming services were attacked over the holidays with artificially high levels of traffic designed to disrupt connectivity and online gameplay,” said Jensen. “This may have prevented your access to the network and its services over the last few days.”
This latest statement from Jensen was the first acknowledgement that Sony was the victim of actual attack, and was not just experiencing increased traffic due to new consoles coming online during the holidays.
With both Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network back online, the FBI is on the case. "We are aware of the reports and are investigating the Sony PlayStation matter," said FBI spokeswoman Jenny Shearer.