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Lizard Squad’s attack on console networks, DDoS attacks explained and more

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During the festive season, a group called Lizard Squad took down both the PlayStation Network (PSN) and Microsoft’s Xbox Live. Since then, the internet has been filled with anger directed at both Lizard Squad and the companies affected. Here is an update on what is happening, including an explanation of what Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are.

Update on attacks and an unlikely hero emerges

On 25 December 2014, Christmas day, both console networks suffered DDoS attacks, leaving gamers out in the dark. Afterwards, Microsoft managed to recover, while the PSN took multiple days and is still not working as intended, with network issues still persisting at the time of writing.

An unlikely hero emerged while the attack was going on. The founder of Mega, Kim Dotcom, tweeted Lizard Squad asking them to stop the attacks in exchange to give their entire crew 3000 Mega lifetime premium vouchers.

Dotcom was the founder of the now Shut down Megaupload. Dotcom is also an eager gamer once ranked number one on Modern Warfare 3 before the raid on his home.

The tweet reads:

"Hi @LizardMafia, I want to play #Destiny on XBOX Live. I'll give your entire crew Mega lifetime premium vouchers if you let us play. Cool?" - Source

Lizard Squad replied to the tweet and later agreed to stop the attacks, which was met with a sigh of relief from the console gaming community. However, some people’s issues still persist.

PlayStation owners are experiencing "intermittent connectivity" to PlayStation Network, Sony confirmed on the PlayStation Knowledge Center. Sony has since tweeted a link to a PlayStation Knowledge Center page from the Ask PlayStation Twitter account. The page recommends that people try tweaking the MTU settings in their console's network configuration if they're having trouble accessing PSN.

Because of the continued trouble with the PSN, Sony has extended the PlayStation store flash and holiday sales until 31 December 2014.

Interview with Lizard Squad

Sky News has had an interview with a member from Lizard Squad. Here are some of the most important parts of the interview, which you can read below or go to Sky News for the complete transcript. The video above is just part of the interview, yet from it one can see just how Lizard Squad is acting. The interviewee even laughs, as if it is all some big joke.

"This attack was basically done by three people. We had a couple of people from outside the group helping with the attacks, helping us a little bit, but most of the traffic was coming from one or two people.”

Asked why the team carried out the attack, he said: "Mostly to raise awareness - to amuse ourselves.

"Also one of the big aspects here was raising awareness regarding the low state of computer security at these companies. Because these companies make tens of millions every month from subscriber fees and that doesn't even include purchases made by their customers. They should have more than enough funding to be able to protect against these attacks. And if they can't protect against the attacks on their core business networks then I don't think they're really doing that much on their overall level of security. And these customers are still giving these companies their credit card numbers and such."

Ryan continued: "It is sort of a game for us I have to admit. I completely understand that it's a bit unethical.” – Source  

DDoS attacks explained – Microsoft and Sony can not be blamed

Additional servers will not work against DDoS attacks, as that would only increase the number of machines flooding the servers. There is only one way to really stop DDoS attacks, and that is if ISPs and internet gateways detect them before the attack reaches its destination.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of “distributed” attacks, which is the first “D” in DDoS, it is a near impossible task.

The best way to explain it to people who might not understand how DDoS attacks actually looks is two videos from the Logstalgia Youtube channel, which can be seen below. The first video shows how normal traffic would look while the second shows how a DDoS attack looks.  

Normal Traffic and how a server responds to it

DDoS traffic and how a server responds

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully gamers will better understand what exactly is going on and importantly, not blame Sony or Microsoft after seeing the explanation of what DDoS attacks actually are. Lizard Squad has done some harm to the console gaming community. Hopefully, they will honor their agreement with Kim Dotcom and leave us gamers alone in the future.

Have you suffered in the festive holidays due to Lizard Squad? What can be done to stop this type of group in the future? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

Sources: Twitter, Sky News  

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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd  

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