Do you know someone who is expecting an Xbox or PlayStation game console under the Christmas tree this year? If so, you'd better tell them to make plans for doing something other than playing with their new game systems for a few days. The New York Daily News reports that the Grinch (aka, a hacker group calling itself Phantom Squad) has vowed to use DDoS attacks to knock both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network offline starting Christmas day and lasting up to a week.
Apparently a member of Phantom Squad sent out a tweet on December 9 that said, "We are going to shut down Xbox Live and PSN this year on Christmas. And we are going to keep them down for one week straight. #DramaAlert"
Just to show that you can't really trust a hacker group, they didn't even wait until Christmas day (December 25) to launch an attack on Xbox Live. Ars Technica reported that attacks on or around December 17 have already knocked Microsoft's gaming service offline for hours at a time. Sony's PlayStation Network hasn't been affected—yet.
Looks like it's déjà vu all over again. The hacker group Lizard Squad pulled the same sort of tactic a year ago, knocking the gaming services offline at a time when people received new consoles and games as gifts and were anxious to play.
Phantom Squad is claiming that the attacks are all in the name of getting companies like Microsoft and Sony to implement better security. In a tweet sent out December 16, Phantom Squad wrote, "PSN and Xbox don't use that money to improve their security...So until they open their eyes Xbox Live and PSN will remain vulnerable."
Well, the hackers do have a point. Microsoft and Sony know their gaming services are a frequent target of DDoS attacks, so why aren't they doing all they can to beef up the defenses against such attacks? Even a few hours of downtime must translate to big revenue bucks that are lost when gamers can't play. But this is a business issue for Microsoft and Sony to decide, not for some hacking group that thinks the existing security isn't good enough. Taking legitimate businesses offline to prove a point is still a crime.
Phantom Squad's Twitter account has been taken down, so apparently they won't be broadcasting their nefarious intentions with further tweets. We'll just have to put out the milk and cookies for Santa Claus and see if we can use our new game consoles on Christmas morning.