As users settled in to a comfy couch or bean bag chair Sunday morning for an exciting morning of PlayStation gaming—a bag of Doritos and a can of Red Bull sitting within arm’s reach—attackers essentially shut down the PlayStation Network and disrupted those plans. No Watch Dogs, or Diablo III: Reaper of Souls for you.
The hacktivist collective known as Anonymous has taken credit for the attack—claiming it was initiated to demonstrate weaknesses in Sony’s network. Sony did appear to be the primary target, or at least suffer the greatest impact, but there were also simultaneous attacks against the Microsoft Xbox Live network, and Blizzard’s Battle.net network.
Sony wasn’t “hacked” in this case. It was just a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. Basically, the attackers just flooded the PSN network and servers with more traffic, and more requests than they could handle—rendering them effectively useless.
“Distributed Denial of service attacks used to be a resource held by a few of the elite groups on the net but today this method of attack is available to anyone as it is offered as a service,” explained TK Keanini, CTO of Lancope. “If you know where to look and you have some crypto currency in hand, just point and shoot.”
It’s a bit of a catch-22 for businesses. Being connected to the Internet is more or less a requirement for businesses today, but being connected also exposes the company to DDoS attacks, and there is little that can be done to avoid or prevent such an attack.
The Sony PlayStation Network, and other game networks like Xbox Live and Battle.net are incredibly attractive targets for attackers. They are high profile—with any disruption making the news, and given all of the in-game commerce, there are millions of credit cards and personal information kept up to date just waiting to be monetized by cybercriminals.
Keanini has a personal stake in the matter as well. “Sony better get it together before Sept 9th when at midnight around the world, Bungie’s new title Destiny will be released and the popularity of this game alone will stress the PSN resources. You can count on me being there at exactly midnight when my copy will go online.”