If you had trouble logging into PSN or XBox Live yesterday, you’re not alone. The servers for both services were overloaded and rendered inoperable. You might assume it was the result of a typical Christmas Day rush, but the truth is…far more interesting. Would you believe a hacker war straight out of an early Angelina Jolie film?
In August, a DDOS attack brought down Playstation Network and Blizzard’s servers for a short time. On the same day, a bomb threat was tweeted targeting a plane flight the head of Sony Online Entertainment was on, and the plane was forced to make an early landing. A group of Anonymous-esque hackers calling themselves “Lizard Squad” claimed responsibility, and started virtually high-fiving each other.
Lizard Squad kept up their antics through the following month, crashing servers that ran the online components of Grand Theft Auto V and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Then they disappeared for much of the fall season, until they brought Sony and Microsoft servers down again on December 1 and bragged they would do it once more come Christmas.
There were only two ways they could be stopped: if they all got girlfriends, which was unlikely, or if another hacker group arose to challenge them. That very second thing happened when The Finest Squad emerged on December 2 and vowed to stop Lizard Squad by any means necessary. From that point it became an all-out cyberwar, with doxxes and hacks coming from both ends trying to silence each other.
On December 7 a Canadian teenager was arrested for allegedly starting multiple swatting incidents. Finest Squad claimed he was also a member of Lizard Squad and crowed their victory. On December 11, Finest Squad made the claim that they had successfully banned Lizard Squad’s Twitter account.
Both released public statements. Finest Squad called Lizard Squad “little kids who don’t know what they’re doing” and restated their mission to protect online gamers. Just so there was no doubt which car in this Wacky Race was Dick Dastardly’s, a representative of Lizard Squad told Polygon they do what they do because “chaos is entertainment.”
Lizard Squad still vowed to carry out their December 25 DDOS attack. Finest Squad vowed back they would never succeed. Clearly Lizard Squad won on Christmas morning, but it’s far from the end. It’s not often we get to see a real life battle between good and evil, so grab some popcorn and watch. From a distance.