If you're looking forward to trying out your new consoles and games this Christmas, you may want to reconsider, as Steam, Minecraft, Xbox Live, and PlayStation Network servers have all been announced as targets by holiday hackers this year.
Now, according to a report by TechRadar, a new hacking group called Phantom Squad has taken up the reins, launching an attack on Xbox Live last week and implying that PSN will be their next target.
"Xbox Live #Offline [...] PSN is next..."Meanwhile, according to a report from TechWorm, rival hacking group SkidNP has promised to attack Steam and Minecraft servers, after claiming responsibility for defacing and taking down Phantom Squad's website.
Of course, these hackers don't see themselves as the villains, preventing Christmas fun; no, SkidNP's @Obstructable on Twitter claims that the attacks are a public service; they claim to be making the attacks to force companies to protect users against their attacks. If you think this is a little counter-intuitive, you're not alone.
"We will be hitting them because we are trying to make services like them [prevent] these sort of attacks, so they get stronger. Anyone with a $5 booter can take down Xbox if they have the right IP."That may be, but it's not just "anyone" taking down Xbox Live; it's the same people who claim they are dedicated to preventing it.
Phantom Squad, naturally, claims the same goals.
"I get asked a lot on why we do this? Why do we take down PSN and Xbox Live? Because cyber security does not exist."
Whatever the reasoning, it seems likely that the Phantom Squad and SkidNP groups will be attacking the three largest online gaming services in the world over the holidays, as well as the incredibly-popular Minecraft, which also requires servers to run in most cases, and past history suggests that the attacks will be effective, particularly on the busiest days of the year -- so plan accordingly.
While it seems like the hacking groups are the ones to blame, TechWorm points out that even Kim DotCom of MegaUpload fame believes that the onus is on the companies to prevent such attacks.Of course, it's a matter of opinion whether a single company can do anything to prevent a DDoS, which works by sending massive amounts of traffic their way; while companies like Microsoft, Valve, and Sony have a lot of power, it's very difficult for any one company to cover every angle in such an attack.
Hacking collective Anonymous also spoke out in support of the attackers, saying that "If PSN or Xbox live goes down, Microsoft and Sony are the blame [sic]. You would expect these corporations to have sufficient DDoS protection."
TechRaptor notes that anyone planning to give a console as a gift this year should unbox it and allow it to do its online updates and registration in advance of Christmas Day -- which, in light of this news, is pretty good advice.
[Photo by Patrick Lux/Getty Images]