Don’t Blame Sony and Microsoft for Service Outages, Blame Lizard Squad

The never-ending stories about PlayStation Network and Xbox Live have become a fact of life at this point. Most recently, an infamous group called “Lizard Squad” used distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks to bring down both services on Christmas in quite possibly the most childish show of technical prowess imaginable. It was an attack announced nearly a month in advance, and yes, Sony and Microsoft both absolutely should have been prepared for the hits, especially as these attack become more and more prevalent, but let’s put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the group responsible: Lizard Squad.

WinBeta recently landed an exclusive interview with the group to ask about its motivations behind the attacks:

“Lizard Squad explains that the task simply began for the laughs, but evolved into what they say is a real cause. Taking down Microsoft and Sony networks shows the companies’ inability to protect their consumers and instead shows their true vulnerability. Lizard Squad claims that their actions are simple, take down gaming networks for a short while, and forcing companies to upgrade their security as a result.”

“For the laughs.” Yes, that’s right, a massive attack to bring down two of the largest gaming networks in the world simply “for the laughs.” Of course, what follows is the thin justification that hackers always give, that they’re trying to expose flaws and inspire change. Really, they’re the heroes of the whole situation. Oh wait, no, no they’re not. They’re two-bit criminals pretending to be eight-bit warriors. They think they’re doing you and I a favor by bringing these security vulnerabilities to the light, but all they’re doing is stoking their own egos and acting like mobsters extorting businesses for protection money by throwing bricks through their windows.

A DDoS attack does not expose a “security vulnerability.” All a DDoS attack does is overload servers with so many requests that it either brings the server down completely or makes it so slow to respond that it may as well be down completely. That’s not a security concern; that’s an inevitability of the Internet. Servers can only handle so many requests at once. Lizard Squad may claim to be doing this for our sake, but that is absolutely not true. They are doing it to prove they can. Lizard Squad has previously grounded a plane with a false bomb threat and has already announced that its next target is the anonymous network, Tor, which has earned the group the ire of Anonymous, itself infamous for using hacking to bring down websites it doesn’t agree with to make a point. When Anonymous is telling you that you’ve gone too far, you’ve clearly crossed a line.

Another hacking group, The Finest Squad, formed specifically to launch a DDoS attack against Lizard Squad in response to the recent hack. The Finest Squad wasn’t trying to show off Lizard Squad’s “true vulnerability” or force them “to upgrade their security as a result”; they simply wanted to put an end to Lizard Squad’s childish behavior and let gamers continue playing online. Lizard Squad has previously said that “really we are just a bunch of guys with too much free time,” so there is no moral high ground for them to stand on and The Finest Squad’s efforts should be applauded as a result. They are doing the world a service. And apparently, all it took for Lizard Squad to finally end its attack on PSN and XBL were free lifetime subscriptions to MEGA. So much for sending a message.

Of course, there’s just no getting around the fact that both Sony and Microsoft should have been more prepared for these attacks, but still, when it comes to laying the blame at anyone’s feet, it should be placed squarely in front of Lizard Squad.