NEW: Sony exec says PlayStation's network disrupted on purpose
Both Playstation and Xbox Live networks hobbled into the weekend
'Lizard Squad' claims responsibility for cyberattack
Hacker group has a history of going after Sony
A Sony executive said Saturday that a cyberattack was to blame for the network woes that have been plaguing PlayStation and others since Christmas Day.
“The video game industry has been experiencing high levels of traffic designed to disrupt connectivity and online gameplay,” Catherine Jensen, Sony’s vice president of Consumer Experience said on PlayStation’s blog. “Multiple networks, including PSN, have been affected over the last 48 hours. PSN engineers are working hard to restore full network access and online gameplay as quickly as possible,” she said.
“If you received a PlayStation console over the holidays and have been unable to log onto the network, know that this problem is temporary and is not caused by your game console,” Jensen wrote.
Microsoft’s Xbox Live network also were hobbled by a slowdown on one of the busiest gaming days of the year. But, unlike Sony, Xbox spokesman Sean McCarthy told CNN that “we don’t share info on the root cause of specific issues.”
PlayStation gamers exasperated
Jensen’s announcement was an about-face compared to Sony’s previous messages since the ordeal began – mostly tweets that were sparse, vague and almost always ended with ‘thank you for your continued patience.”
But based on the overall sentiment expressed in the comments posted to message boards and on Twitter, the collective patience among PlayStation users had long since run out – especially when rival Xbox appeared to be back online.
“@AskPlayStation any chance you guys could consult with #xboxlive engineers on how to get #psn back up?” @robbhunt asked on Twitter. “They seem to have things figured out.”
@LilGizmoe_ tweeted a picture of her entertainment console at her house in Montana with this caption: “I wish PSN would come back online. Bought hubby a PS4 for Christmas. Only thing its good for right now is a tv stand.”
A great deal of the contempt however was reserved for Lizard Squad, a band of black-hat hackers who said from the get-go that they were behind the attack.
“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.”
CNN cannot confirm the identity or claims of Lizard Squad, but Sony’s acknowledgment that this was indeed a cyberattack gives little reason to doubt their claims.
In August, the group said it took down the PlayStation network in the same fashion: by flooding it with illegitimate traffic, something called a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) in the video game world.
As CNNMoney reported at the time, when John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment, tweeted about those “large scale” attacks, he became a Lizard Squad 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 again hit with a similar outage. Lizard Squad not only took credit for that one too, but it promised more “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.
CNN’s Ben Brumfield, Steve Almasy, Brian Stelter and Tony Marco contributed to this report.