Worst over? Hackers claim responsibility for gamers' offline misery

PlayStation, Xbox users forced offline
PlayStation, Xbox users forced offline

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PlayStation, Xbox users forced offline 03:24

Story highlights

  • PlayStation, Xbox had 'network issues' well into Friday
  • Hacker group 'Lizard Squad' has claimed responsibility
  • Lizard Squad has a history of going after Sony
  • In August, it may have managed to divert a flight carrying Sony exec
Disrupted PlayStation and Xbox networks frustrated gamers much of Friday, one day after going down on one of the busiest gaming days of the year.
Neither Sony or Microsoft, which own PlayStation and Xbox, respectively, have had much to say about the outages that have kept millions of its gamers from playing one another online, but there were signs Friday evening that it may soon be resolved.
At 2:16 a.m Friday, Microsoft's verified @XboxSupport account tweeted "Some Xbox One users may currently be experiencing issues signing into Xbox Live," and directed users to its service website for the latest.
Sony's official PlayStation support Twitter account posted at 2:30 a.m. ET, "Our engineers are continuing to work hard to resolve the network issues users have experienced today. Thanks for your continued patience."
More than 14 hours later, at 5:10 p.m, it tweeted pretty much the same thing. "Update: We are working to restore full network services for all platforms -- thanks, as always, for your patience!
But based on the overall sentiment expressed in the comments posted to message boards and on Twitter, the collective patience among PlayStation users is offline as well.
"@AskPlayStation has been tweeting that for hours now since last night," user christopha710 posted on Sony's PlayStation 4 support forum. "I'm getting rid of this piece of trash and going back too [sic] pc gaming"
"Totally not cool," allenjaelee said late Friday morning. "I've tried so many times and am unable to play."
Sony hacked again?
Some users talked of a possible hack.
"This is so frustrating," wrote calin75. "The hackers think they're hurting Sony, but the ones that really pay for this bull crap are the innocent users."
If it turns out that this was indeed a cyberattack, chances are it was done by Lizard Squad, a band of black-hat hackers who have claimed responsibility.
CNN cannot confirm the identity or claims of the group, and PlayStation hasn't said anything beyond that it was working to fix the problem. For its part, Xbox spokesman Sean McCarthy told CNN that "we don't share info on the root cause of specific issues."
But there is little reason to doubt their claims.
In August, Lizard Squad said it took down the PlayStation Network by flooding it with illegitimate traffic, something called a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) in the video game world, resulting in millions of gamers being unable to play together online.
As CNNMoney reported at the time, when John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment, tweeted about those "large scale" attacks, he became a target himself -- even at 30,000 feet.
"We have been receiving reports that @j_smedley's plane #362 from DFW to SAN has explosives on-board, please look into this," the group tweeted to American Airlines, resulting in the flight being diverted.
Earlier this month, Sony was hit with a similar outage that Lizard Squad not only took credit for, but it promised additional "Christmas presents" would soon be coming. "Unlike Santa, we don't like giving all of our Christmas presents out on one day. This entire month will be entertaining," Lizard Squad tweeted.
At 6:13 p.m. Friday, a Lizard Squad twitter handle tweeted, "ALL ATTACKS ON PSN AND XBOX HAVE STOPPED." When a CNN reporter hit refresh moments later on the Sony Entertainment Network website -- which had been down since Thursday evening -- it was back online. Microsoft's service page was still reporting 'limited service,' however.
Stupid coincidence?
The network downtime started just hours after Microsoft's Xbox video store started to stream the Seth Rogen comedy "The Interview." The movie was made by Sony Pictures, a sibling of Sony's PlayStation division.
Sony was the victim of a massive cyberattack in late November that was widely believed to be motivated, at least in part, by North Korea's anger over "The Interview," which depicts the assassination of the country's leader Kim Jong Un.
But there was no indication that Thursday's problems were in any way connected to the movie's digital release.
Other participating distributors of the movie, such as YouTube, were unaffected. And PlayStation is not participating in the release.
A Sony Pictures spokesman deferred to PlayStation for comment about the outage.