ByJohnHeatz, writer at
GamersSphere dot com founder, gamer, software developer and open-minded journalist

December was a sad month for gamers. Not because of lack of games, or due to them not having enough money for the plenty of discounts in video games that could be found all over the web (mostly for PC gamers, with the Steam Holiday Sale 2014), but because of a group of hackers taking down the main gaming networks during the holidays.

It all began at the beginning of December, when the hacker group Lizard Squad claimed responsibility for an Xbox Live outage, and promised to have something "better" waiting for Christmas.

Xbox Live
— Lizard Squad (@LizardPatrol) December 2, 2014

That's a small dose of what's to come on Christmas.
— Lizard Squad (@LizardPatrol) December 2, 2014

Obviously, that account has already been suspended, as many other accounts from the team.

At that point, it was unclear if the group was going to actually attack other networks or the same during Christmas, so every gamer was just waiting for the time to come, as this group had already been demonstrating that they had a powerful enough botnet to bring down services such as the ones from Sony, Microsoft, and even EA.

gamers wondering about the threat
gamers wondering about the threat

Then, a couple of days later, Electronic Arts servers were attacked, again, through a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS), of which the same team assumed full responsibility.

— Lizard Squad (@LizardPatrol) December 11, 2014

At this point, gamers started to foresee what was coming, an imminent attack during Christmas, that one day when most gamers use their free time to get to play their favorite games with their friends through networks such as PlayStation Network (PSN) or Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA).

From there, it all went downhill, because it was all happening. On December 25th, both, XBLA and PSN went down, it was impossible for gamers to play their favorite games with their friends online anymore.

gamers' reaction to the attacks
gamers' reaction to the attacks

The DDoS attacks continued for over 24 hours, rendering both networks unable to do anything: users couldn't even log into their accounts, let alone access any online service provided by them. There was nothing to do besides wait until Lizard Squad got bored of it and allowed the services to go back online.

There were plenty of gamers at home, trying to find a game to play with their friends during their free day, but it was not possible to do so, and both Sony and Microsoft had already acknowledged the situation, without providing a solution.

if they had keyboards they did this
if they had keyboards they did this

But not everything was done, as one savior appeared, and who better for that than MEGA founder Kim “DotCom”

DotCom decided to take care of the situation by reaching a deal with Lizard Squad, providing them lifetime subscriptions to the service for free, under the condition of them never attacking PSN or XBLA again.

After this deal was reached, the attacks stopped, but it didn't mean nobody would do anything against the cyber terrorist group, as the FBI started its own investigation in order to try and get the members of Lizard Squad to jail.

After tracking down the attacks, the FBI noticed that it seemed as if those attacks were originated in Finland, and so, the NBI started to collaborate with them in order to catch the members of the team.

Just a couple of days after Christmas, the first member was sent to jail in the UK, this when British law enforcement agents from the South East Regional Organized Crime Unit (SEROCU) raided the home of an alleged member of the group, a 22-year-old man under the name of Vinnie Omari, who wasn't apprehended due to the attacks to Sony and Microsoft, but for stealing from PayPal accounts.

Then, 19-year-old man who goes by the name of "Ryan" who was taken for interrogation by the Finnish National Bureau, but according to their report, they didn't press charges against Ryan, nor did they take him to jail, contrary to what Lizard Squad said through Twitter.

The investigation is still undergoing by the FBI and NBI, so we can expect to be hearing more about this situation in the upcoming weeks or months, but for now, at least, gamers can go back to playing their favorite games with their friends online.

how it felt when services came back
how it felt when services came back

Hopefully, the attacks will cease and we will be now able to play online on any and every network there is to play in, but with the unofficial success of the Lizard Squad operation, it is certainly possible to start seeing some copycats appearing online, maybe, trying to reach a deal like the one DotCom offered.


How do you feel about these attacks to gamer networks?


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