Hackers targeting a gaming system’s online network is nothing new — just ask those with personal identifiable information stolen in a April 2011 hack of Sony’s PlayStation Network. However, the latest attack against Sony comes with a more insidious angle: targeting top executives themselves.
On Aug. 24, hackers known as the Lizard Squad claimed responsibility for taking down Sony’s PlayStation Network and Blizzard’s Battle.net. In addition, the group also claims to have slowed down Microsoft’s Xbox Live service. The group claimed that it was performing the attack in protest of the gaming companies’ perceived lack of commitment to online security.
“Sony, yet another large company, but they aren't spending the waves of cash they obtain on their customers' PSN service. End the greed,” Lizard Squad tweeted from its group account.
Following those attacks, the group then took their efforts one step further. After finding out that Sony Online Entertainment President John Smedley was on a flight from Dallas to San Diego, the group began to tweet threats concerning his airplane. Among other actions reported by PC World, the group tweeted a video of 9/11 in connection with the flight and created the hashtag #PrayforFlight362.
“.@AmericanAir We have been receiving reports that @j_smedley's plane #362 from DFW to SAN has explosives on-board, please look into this,” read one tweet.
In response, American Airlines re-routes Smedley’s plane to Phoenix, citing safety concerns. On Twitter, Smedley confirmed that the plane was diverted, and said that “all is well.” However, the next day on Twitter, in response to early media reports about Lizard Squad’s actions and claims of being similar to the Iraqi group ISIS, he changed his tune.
“I wish the national media would stop letting these DDOS trolls occasional use of the ISIS crap be taken seriously,” Smedley said on his Twitter page. “Seeing news accounts that make it sound like that's serious. Media please don't get trolled. those [sic] ISIS guys are pure evil and shouldn't be conflated with trolls.”