Over the Christmas period, both Sony and Microsoft made news headlines when their networks were disrupted by digital activists. Both PlayStation and Xbox online networks ground to a halt, effectively cancelling Christmas in the digital world of online gaming. Two prominent questions came from this. Let’s start with the “How?”
Shutting down any service as big as PlayStation Network or Xbox Live seems like a task reserved for the most formidable of cyber-criminal organisations, but the reality is that it was the work of just three people (5), the youngest of which was allegedly thirteen years old. In fact, such a task can (and was) achieved via way of a DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) attack.
For those that are unfamiliar with what that entails, a DDoS is an attack designed to grind a network to a halt by flooding it with useless traffic. For those of you that are interested in a visual representation of such a cyber-attack, here is a map (6) of live attacks across the globe in real time.
Media outlets around the world labelled the activists ‘hackers’. In reality, any semi-tech savvy individual could have achieved the same result, and that brings us to the “Why?”
Why would anybody seek to bring down a gaming network on Christmas Day? It was not an information heist, nor a privacy breach, where the offenders sneak in and out through virtual backdoors and leave without a trace. The hackers shouted from the rooftops on social media taking claim for the attack.
In an interview with Sky News, one of the people behind the attack claimed that they were making a statement to demonstrate how easily it can be achieved. While the hackers’ methodology was called into question, it certainly raised a serious question:
Why can’t the world’s most sophisticated computing giants, whom offer security software and hosting to other businesses, guarantee their own?
With its plethora of benefits, cloud hosting is the future of gaming – a future that has already arrived. However, if our computing giants cannot find a way to prevent the ongoing cyber-attacks, gamers may well look back and reminisce about ‘the good old days’ when we only had to put up with a bit of lag.