In a rather bizarre twist of events, a group by the name of Lizard Squad has taken hacking to the next level: Not only did the hackers take down the PlayStation Network with a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack, but they also took down Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley’s airplane with a bomb threat. Sony has since restored service to PSN, and says there’s no evidence of any personal information being stolen. Smedley’s San Diego-bound American Airlines flight was quickly landed in Phoenix, but the only harm done was a lot of annoyed and delayed passengers. Perpetrating a DDOS attack is one thing, but bomb threats are an entirely different can of worms. Heads will undoubtedly roll in the next few days as federal investigators identify the members of Lizard Squad.
The DDOS began yesterday, August 24, with the PlayStation Network in North America being unreachable for PS3 and PS4 owners. Around the same time, Lizard Squad claimed (on Twitter) that it also DDOSed the servers of Xbox Live, Blizzard, League of Legends, and Path of Exile. In some cases services were unavailable or flaky, but the PSN outage seems to have been the most serious. Sony acknowledged the outage on its blog, and then updated the post to say that it was caused by a DDOS.
At some point, someone at Lizard Squad also thought it was a good idea to tweet a bomb threat to American Airlines, which was carrying SOE president John Smedley to San Diego.
American Airlines promptly redirected flight 362 to land in Phoenix. Rather amusingly, Smedley even tweeted about the diversion. At the time, of course, he probably had no idea that it was because of Lizard Squad.
In case you didn’t already know, airlines and intelligence agencies take bomb threats very seriously. Generally, even joking about bombing a plane (or a similarly vulnerable target) will get you detained by the police. I don’t think planes are usually grounded/diverted due to tweeted bomb threats — but the fact that Lizard Squad specifically called out flight 362, which was currently mid-flight, might’ve triggered a certain security protocol.
Sony has since issued a statement regarding the diversion of Smedley’s flight, saying “I can confirm that at this time the FBI is handling this directly.” In past instances of tweeted bomb threats, the person has generally been detained/arrested very quickly (I think Twitter makes it fairly easy for law enforcement to access names, IP addresses, and other identifiable info in such instances.) I’m sure Lizard Squad will be doing its best to remain anonymous, but we’ll see. A swift arrest would hopefully deter the copycat bomb threats that will surely follow.
As far as we’re aware, the DDOS portion of Lizard Squad’s attack is the largest outage to hit the PlayStation Network since the hack attack in April 2011, which took the PSN offline for almost a month.