Sony’s PlayStation and Entertainment Network are back online after a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack crashed the systems on Sunday.
"Like other major networks around the world, the PlayStation Network and Sony Entertainment Network have been impacted by an attempt to overwhelm our network with artificially high traffic," the company said in a blog post after the attack became apparent. "Although this has impacted your ability to access our network and enjoy our services, no personal information has been accessed."
Once service was restored, Sony reiterated there was no evidence of any intrusion to the network and no evidence of any unauthorized access to users’ personal information. The company also apologized for the inconvenience, but did not offer insight into the specific motive for the attack.
However, a group calling itself 'Lizard Squad' took responsibility for the attack via Twitter and said it had planted the ISIS flag on Sony’s servers. As of Monday morning, the group took to its Twitter account, asking, "How's Xbox Live doing?" -- suggesting it had targeted Microsoft.
Botnet for Hire
We turned to Marc Gaffan, cofounder and chief business officer at Incapsula, a cloud-based Web site security company, to get his thoughts on the Lizard Squad's mode of attack. He told us DDoS attacks have become the weapon of choice for the modern hacker.
"Our own research supports this, finding that DDoS attacks just like the one that recently hit the PlayStation Network are up 240 percent in 2014," he said. "Attacks like this will continue to plague big name companies, thanks to the greater availability of resources for hackers."
Persistent DDoS attacks can sometimes last for weeks. In a time when anyone can Google up a "botnet for hire" and use it to execute a 20-Gbps to a 40-Gbps attack from several thousands sources, Gaffan said organizations across the world need to re-evaluate their DDoS protections, or risk the consequences.
Just Point and Shoot
We also caught up with TK Keanini, CTO of network security firm Lancope, to get his take on the attack. He told us DDoS attacks used to be resources held by a few of the elite groups on the Internet, but today this method of attack is available to anyone as it is offered as a service. If you know where to look and you have some cryptocurrency in hand, he said, just point and shoot.
"If you or more likely your business is connected to the Internet, you will at some point fall victim to a DDoS attack," Keanini said. "And if you are not connected to the Internet, chances are you will not be in business for long as your competitors and customers are all connected."
As Keanini said, Sony and other game networks have to work harder than most to remain secure as they are incredibly attractive targets. Not only are they high profile with any disruption making the news, but given all the in-game commerce, millions of credit cards and personal information are kept up to date and can be monetized by these cybercriminals.
"Sony better get it together before Sept 9 when at midnight around the world, Bungie’s new title 'Destiny' will be released and the popularity of this game alone will stress the PSN resources," Keanini said. "You can count on me being there at exactly midnight when my copy will go online."