Hackers take revenge on Sony, bring down PlayStation gaming network

As the Sony Playstation gaming network PSN enters its fifth day of disruption, details from the parent company remain few on the exact cause and nature of the outage.

The most recent blog post from Patrick Seybold, Sony’s Senior Director of Corporate Communication & Social Media on the 25th April states simply “I know you are waiting for additional information on when PlayStation Network and Qriocity services will be online. Unfortunately, I don’t have an update or timeframe to share at this point in time.”

Speculation over the mechanics and motivation for the “external intrusion” has been rife with many pointing the finger at Anonymous. The “loose online collective” (how much do I hate using that term) launched OpSony on the 3rd of April as a response to Sony’s legal action against the hackers GeoHot and Graf_Chokolo, who have both been releasing tools to jailbreak and add, or replace functionality to the popular gaming console.

It is Anonymous’ position that the information that was being shared by these hackers is being suppressed by Sony for reasons of “corporate greed and complete control of the users”. Sony have brought legal action againt these two individuals as well as reportedly requesting information from social media sites such as YouTube to surrender details of the IP addresses of all visitors to geohot’s postings. Anonymous also state that legal permission has been given to surrender the IP address of all visitors to geohot.com.

In the ongoing comments on the OpSony page, on the 6th of April an initial network diagram of Sony’s internet presence was made available, along with an appeal for further information and on the same day PSN users were already complaining in the same thread about disruption caused to their access to online gaming.

News reports across the internet still state that it is still unclear who is behind the attack on Sony, however an undated news update from Anonymous does appear to, at least implicitly, claim responsibility.

“Anonymous is not attacking the PSN at this time. Sony’s official position is that the PSN is undergoing maintenance. We realize that targeting the PSN is not a good idea. We have therefore temporarily suspended our action, until a method is found that will not severely impact Sony customers.”

The attack methodology has not currently been revealed by Sony and at present they have taken the PSN offline in order to “strengthen our network infrastructure”.

Whatever your moral position on the rights or wrongs of violating end user license agreements and copyright law, it is undeniable that the action taken, which has resulted in this protracted period of downtime, has resulted in an outpouring of very strong negative feeling towards Anonymous with one poster commenting:

“The Day Anonymous became no better than the people they claim to stand against”

The irony of denying millions of people access to services and information in the name of defending freedom of information is certainly not inconsiderable.

This post comes to you on World Intellectual Property Day. Would you like some irony with your irony sir?

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As Solutions Architect for Trend Micro, Rik Ferguson interacts with CIOs from a wide variety of blue chip enterprises, government institutions, law enforcement organisations. Recognised as an industry thought leader and analyst, Rik is regularly quoted by the press on issues surrounding Information Security, Cybercrime and technology futures. With over 15 years experience in the IT Industry with companies such as EDS, McAfee and Xerox Rik’s broad experience enables him to have a clear insight into the challenges and issues facings businesses today.