This past weekend was a rough one for gaming companies and it’s advocates thanks to aggressive DDoS hacking, a problem that has now become a go-to method for infiltrators who want to address issues regarding technology and proper server maintenance.
The whole situation started last Saturday evening, when MMORPG juggernaut company Blizzard had its Battle.net servers go down. While League of Legends also took a server beating, but the biggest victim to artificial traffic bombing is Sony and their PlayStation Network servers. The hack-attackers also stirred trouble with airlines that could have possibly put President of Sony Online Entertainment John Smedley in danger.
Of the two hackers associated with these cases, one of them goes under the name FamedGod. This user, affiliated with MvK Gaming and seemingly with Anonymous, has admitted to using DDoS (known as distributed denial of service) to attack PSN and notes that his involvement was simply to raise awareness of the lack of security that the company has currently set in place.
“Sony is a company that lacks the security which makes every user vulnerable to having their information leaked. Jailbreaks can access hidden and prohibited content now. Memory dumping can reveal the hidden servers which personal and main information is stored. Simple hex converting and decryption lead to a full DDoS on PlayStation’s main server’s data center,” FamedGod wrote in the description box to a video he uploaded to YouTube.
“Sony, you just launched a new system on a new network but it all leads to the same server. How more vulnerable could you make your network? Take advice from Microsoft and their ways of security.”
The second hacker in question, however, seems to have no real motive to his actions other than creating chaos and as of today, he has become a bigger threat out of the two.
Throughout the weekend, a Twitter user under the name Lizard Squad diverted Smedley’s flight arrangements after he sent out a Tweet to American Airlines saying that his flight may have a bomb on board. American Airlines and Smedley themselves have confirmed the workaround and the airline company made sure safety was provided.
The fun didn’t stop there. Around 8 p.m. EDT last night, the user claimed to have shut down Twitch.tv and the North-American servers for League of Legends. Twitch’s support team confirmed that there were issues with the website around the same time, while official Twitter accounts for League Of Legends and Riot Games didn’t report anything. The situation is critical considering that Twitch.tv was recently bought out by the Amazon company two days ago.
The Squad holds these sites captive until one of their bizarre requests have been fulfilled: people had to write “Lizard Squad” on their foreheads with a sharpie.
Surprisingly, people actually did it. The Squad wanted four heads with his Twitter handle written on them in order for their wishes to be fulfilled.
One after the other, heads were rolling in. By the time the second to last head came through, Twitch.tv was half-working but not fully operational. Finally, the fourth “Lizard Squad” forehead was tweeted, and poof! The “Gods released their bounds” and Twitch.tv and its services were running as if nothing ever happened.
One of the ‘heads’ was pornstar-turned-gamer Mia Rose, who regularly uses Twitch.tv’s streaming service to broadcast her League of Legends and World of Warcraft gameplay. Her shows usually accumulate up to about 900 viewers. She tweeted a picture of herself with the words “Lizard Squad” written on her head, which was retweeted by the Squad themselves.
To Rose, Lizard Squad is a mystery.
“I don’t know who they are, but I know what they have been doing. After Sky Williams did a photo, they asked for someone else famous. I [tweeted to them] ‘what is famous?’ They responded with ‘you,’” Rose said.
“I had to take the night off because of Twitch being down. Figured it couldn’t hurt to at least try.”
As mentioned, self-proclaimed e-sports comedian Sky Williams was one of the four heads who also gave into Lizard Squad’s contest. While Williams could not be contacted for comment, he was proud of his actions. FamedGod had followed suit on the whole ‘write my name on your forehead’ phenomenon, but it never stuck and supposedly, he went back to gaming. He had an endgame. Lizard Squad just wants to keep playing.
The predicament is quite funny when you consider that before all this, Lizard Squad had relegated to making threats about Microsoft’s Xbox Live and Tumblr servers, but they came up short. Some people had trouble with the targeted servers, but they were fine for the majority. This begs the question of whether or not their antics—be it for fun, for chaos or for a cause—was legitimate. When you look at the big picture, their shots were about 85% accurate.
Given some of the tweets about planting ISIS flags on servers and other terrorist-esque tweets, it’s possible that Lizard Squad may be more than one person. Their scare tactic is shock value, which isn’t a surprise to the Sony’s online head honcho. After Smedley landed in his destination safely, he concluded on his Twitter that all the mumbo jumbo regarding Lizard Squad and other hackers using DDoS to cripple servers were pretty lightweight.
I wish the national media would stop letting these DDOS trolls occasional use of the ISIS crap be taken seriously. Seeing news accounts
— John Smedley (@j_smedley) August 25, 2014
For half of the pie, Smedley may be right. The two perpetrators in question may have infiltrated Sony’s servers for mere attention, and that’s what they got. Articles on every popular tech-related news site jotted down their dirty deeds and the geeky corner of Twitter—that’s us—were in an uproar. Almost every important person in the industry had their attention on folks behind a computer who were more than comfortable with making subtle terrorist threats to one of Sony’s officials and causing website disruptions. It all worked out quite peachy for them and mostly for the Squad.
We get it. A DDoS attack is nothing more than an artificial server clog wrapped in some tough-to-break coding. Considering that no vital information can be obtained by doing so, it’s practically harmless. Despite the ease of prevention, some companies and their servers are helpless because they aren’t equipped with adequate protection. It is urged that Sony, Twitch and LoL developer Riot Games consider looking into other server maintenance options that can prevent a second attack and protect vital online information.
This however, this doesn’t excuse the hackers actions. Make no mistake about it, Lizard Squad and FamedGod are not heroes nor are they deities. They’ve stigmatized their own cause simply by doing too much. They’re disruptive individuals playing childlike games with big-time corporations. If they feel so high and mighty about raising awareness about server protection, why couldn’t they do it in a calm manner? If their high horse is all about attacking gaming website guppies, why not go for the bigger sharks like the CIA or the FBI?
Simple answer: they can’t. Lizard Squad may have scratched the surface with the Smedley situation, but it won’t be long before they tire out and run out of fishes to fry.
Although there may not be any correlation between the two, Lizard Squad and Anonymous are the same type of people. They are hiding behind a computer, waiting to snag their 15 minutes of fame. They crash down websites, post eerie YouTube videos, release touchy, yet false information and rely on shock value as their chance to get noticed.
The difference between the two is that it’s Wednesday now and the Lizard Squad still wants more airtime. The Twitter account is still active and they are confident that they won’t be found by the law authorities. The FBI are investigating, at least according to a representative from Sony.
For now, we may be in the midst of an era where no website or service that deals with video game media is safe. If The Game Fanatics goes down, there’s an obvious reason why.