On Christmas day, many gamers around the world found that they couldn't play many of their favorite games anymore. The reason? The online services powering these games, such as PSN and Xbox Live, were down—and a group of alleged hackers claimed responsibility for it.
Today, Xbox Live seems to mostly be up and running. PSN is still down, though Sony says they're working on it. While gamers wait to have services restored in full, the one thing everyone can't help but wonder is why? Why would anyone do something like this? What's the point?
The short answer is "for the lulz," as anyone that is familiar with internet culture could have guessed. The longer answer is a bit more complicated, if not a little self-righteous.
The Daily Dot published an interview with some of the folks behind Lizard Squad, the group that claimed they had taken down the gaming online services. They've also claimed to be behind a few other stunts in the past year. To be clear, nobody can actually confirm that Lizard Squad really did bring down PSN and Xbox Live using denial-of-service attacks. But, the timing does match up: the group claimed Xbox Live and PSN would be down on Christmas nearly a month before it happened, and lo and behold, it came to pass. While it might've just been a coincidence, it's interesting to hear Lizard Squad explain why they supposedly took down PSN and Xbox Live on Christmas. Apparently, the attack—which they've been allegedly planning for a while—was done to highlight "incompetence" at Microsoft and Sony.
"Microsoft and Sony are fucking retarded, literally monkeys behind computers," one of the members of Lizard Squad explained to The Daily Dot. "They would have better luck if they actually hired someone who knew what they were doing. Like, if they went around prisons and hired people who were convicted for stuff like this they would have a better chance at preventing attacks."
"If I was working [at Microsoft or Sony] and had a big enough budget I could totally stop these attacks," another member of Lizard claimed. "I'd buy more bandwidth, some specific equipment, and configure it correctly. It's just about programming skill. With an attack of this scale it could go up to the millions. But that's really no problem for Sony and Microsoft."
In a different interview with BBC Radio, a member of Lizard Squad was asked whether or not they felt a sense of shame for essentially ruining Christmas for a bunch of kids. "If I did, I would probably have apologized by now, but no I don't," the Lizard Squad member responded. "You feel that you have the power to do something, and maybe the company can change for the better," he later said, while explaining why Lizard Squad took down PSN and Xbox Live. He later defended the DDoS takedown of PSN and Xbox Live by bringing up how gamers pay so much money for subscriptions to play online, only to have Microsoft and Sony fumble when it comes to maintaining these services while under attack by hijinks like those that are supposedly carried out by Lizard Squad. Lizard Squad seems convinced that what they're doing is for the "greater good." It doesn't help that Lizard Squad claims they had warned the companies that an attack was coming on Christmas day. While we can't verify that yet, we do know that Lizard Squad had been threatening with an attack publicly on Twitter for the last month.
"It's not so much that we don't care about [people's lives] being disrupted," a member of Lizard Squad clarified. "Surely people could go for one day [without playing games], you know, it wasn't even a day in total. It was just 12 to 14 hours."
You'd think that taking center stage like this—Tweeting, boasting and giving out interviews—would make some of the members of Lizard Squad scared about being caught. But, they don't really seem to care.
"There is a chance that I will get caught, and I personally am not really that worried about it, to be honest," a Lizard Squad member said in the BBC interview. "If I get caught, then I get caught. Maybe I'll end up serving time, or maybe I'll end up helping companies, help them get better I guess."
Assuming Lizard Squad did take down PSN and Xbox Live, some would claim that what they accomplished isn't actually hacking. But, Lizard Squad does have a response for that too.
"For attacks of this scale, you can't really do them without either having access to insane amounts of funding or being able to gain access to the computers via hacking...you can't just do DDoS attacks from your home computer," a member of Lizard Squad claimed in the Daily Dot interview. "It doesn't work."
Another member of Lizard Squad didn't sound as confident about his hacking abilities during the interview with BBC radio.
"I wouldn't really call myself a top grade hacker," the Lizard Squad member said. "I know people who are way better than me. But I think I know my stuff. I think it's fair to say I know some of my stuff, and this just proves it, right?"
"So it doesn't take a degree of sophistication to do this," the interviewer responded. "An ordinary hacker that wants to disrupt children's lives on Christmas day could do this."
"If they put their minds to it, whereas, with me, friends of mine, they used to go out clubbing, partying, I really didn't enjoy that," the Lizard Squad member explained. "I found it dull. So I decided to just sit at home and learn more skills of my own. It's helped me along the way, so maybe this isn't something that most people enjoy and think that it was a good decision. But to us I think it was just something we just decided upon, so, yeah, [the PSN and Xbox Live DDoS] happened.
You can read the rest of the Daily Dot interview here. We'll keep you updated on the status of Xbox Live and PSN, as well as any developments that might shed some light on what was responsible for these incidents. For now, developers like Rockstar are trying their best to make things right for players who aren't able to enjoy seasonal, limited time experiences—like snow in Grand Theft Auto Online.