The Christmas gift of a new games console was marred for many this year by attacks on Sony's PlayStation Network and Microsoft's Xbox Live that prevented users from getting online - although both companies claim the issues are now resolved.
In a perfect example of why we can't have nice things, a group of ne'er-do-wells known as Lizard Squad decided to play Grinch and ruin Christmas for the not-inconsiderable proportion of the world's populace who woke up to an Xbox or PlayStation console under the tree. Using distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks - where thousands of client systems, typically virus-infected desktop computers, all send traffic to a target system simultaneously to overload it - the team claim to have knocked Sony's PlayStation Network system offline for much of the holiday period, while a similar but shorter outage to Microsoft's rival Xbox Live platform is believed to be related.
The attack is not what the mainstream media likes to call 'hacking,' even by its own loose definition of the much-abused term: no data is understood to have been at risk, and it is not related to the recent serious breach of Sony Pictures' network. 'The video game industry has been experiencing high levels of traffic designed to disrupt connectivity and online gameplay,
' the company explained in a statement to press. 'Multiple networks, including PSN, have been affected over the last 48 hours. PSN engineers are working hard to restore full network access and online gameplay as quickly as possible.
Interestingly, the cessation of the DDoS attack appears to be attributable to the actions of one man: notorious copyright cartel target Kim 'Dotcom' Schmitz, creator of shutdown file-sharing service Megaupload and its successor Mega. Schmitz contacted the group via Twitter
on Christmas Day, claiming that he wanted 'to play Destiny on Xbox Live
' and offering the group lifetime premium membership to his cloud storage service if the attacks would be called off - something the group agreed to
the next day, although it took until late Sunday for the PlayStation Network to return to normal.
'PlayStation Network is back online,
' the company posted
at the time. '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. This may have prevented your access to the network and its services over the last few days. Thanks again for your support and patience. We’ll provide any further updates here.
For those still experiencing problems with the PlayStation Network, VentureBeat
has posted instructions for altering the maximum transmission unit (MTU) settings on the console which may resolve lingering issues.