One of the lizards apparently hacked Taylor Swift - can they be shaken off?

With a hacker affiliated with Lizard Squad apparently hacking Taylor Swift’s Twitter account yesterday, many will be asking who exactly are these latest online mischiefs.

In a world where names such as LulzSec, Anonymous and the Syrian Electronic Army are banded around in an ever-increasingly porous internet, it can be difficult grasping the basics of the who, what and why of online hackers.

Who are Lizard Squad?

No one really knows. The name Lizard Squad is used as a signature on a site the group has hacked, displaying a lizard in a top hat, monocle and tuxedo.

They were then behind the Christmas day attack on Sony Playstation and Microsoft Xbox Live. In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, "Member One" said that he became part of the attack for moral reasons, that Microsoft could have prevented the hack and that it only took a few days to plan.

"Member Two" told the BBC that the hack was to show the weaknesses in the Microsoft and Sony systems. "It's just such a huge company Microsoft... Do you not think they should be able to prevent such an attack?" he told BBC Radio Five Live.

In mid-January, a UK man was arrested in connection with the Christmas cyberattacks. He was arrested on suspicion of having a part in the Christmas distributed denial of service attacks and a range of other offences.  Officers from the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit and other agencies worked with US authorities such as the FBI to find the suspect.

Who have they attacked?

The group first came to international attention when they hacked PlayStation last August, causing a shutdown of the network and the emergency diversion of a commercial airliner that was carrying one of its top executives.

They emerged once more on the main stage in early December 2014 when the PlayStation Network was taken down once again, with the group promising to keep assaulting games networks until Christmas.

They eventually caused the pain and misery of thousands of PlayStation and Xbox users at Christmas when reports emerged that the networks which allow users of the consoles to play the video games with a wider online community were suffering problems.

As well as Sony and Microsoft, Lizard Squad has hacked EA Games, Destiny, as well as recent attacks on Malaysian Airlines and even Taylor Swift. They also claim to be behind the outage of Facebook and Instagram on Tuesday morning. Furthermore, they claim to have collected data from Tinder and messaging services AIM and Hipchat. The squad also implied that it would have taken down Twitter.