What is the Lizard Squad and what does it want?

Cyber attackers say they want to improve online security

Starting on Christmas Eve, reports began emerging of problems with the networks used by both Xbox Live and PlayStation which allow users of the consoles to play the video games with a wider online community. A group calling itself the Lizard Squad took to social media to claim responsibility, saying on Twitter: “Jingle bells jingle bells xbox got ran.”

Here are are flurry of facts about the group:

1. Several technology experts have pointed out that the Lizard Squad members have not exactly hacked the games’ networks. Rather they have used so-called Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks which overwhelm servers with massive amounts of fake traffic. This renders them inoperable.

2. The website Winbeta.org said it conducted an interview with a core member of the Lizard Squad and was told the attack on the networks had been carried out “for the laughs”. But the member said there was also a serious point to the attack and the group wanted the games’ manufacturers to upgrade online security. “Taking down Microsoft and Sony networks shows the companies’ inability to protect their consumers and instead shows their true vulnerability,” the group member said in the encrypted conversation.

3.The Lizard Squad had announced their plans in advance. The member said the group had chosen Christmas Day as it would “anger and reach the largest amount of people – more people angry calls for a greater response from the companies”.

4.The group member said the Lizard squad did not want to case genuine harm. The member told Winbeta.org the group could take down the NASDAQ if they wanted to damage the economy, but that was “not the goal”.

5. The Lizard Squad began to emerge earlier this year and became associated with a number of attacks on gaming networks, the Washington Post reported. It said this was not the first time the group had targeted Sony and Microsoft’s gaming networks. It claimed to have hit the PlayStation network in August and Xbox in early December. The group also struck RiotGames’ League of Legends and Blizzard’s Battle.net.

6. In August, a Twitter account associated with the group tweeted out a bomb scare, forcing an American Airlines flight to make an emergency landing, the Washington Post also reported. On board was Sony Online Entertainment President John Smedley. The incident reportedly put Lizard Squad squarely in the sights of the FBI. For as-yet unexplained reasons, the group has also invoked Islamic State in some of its social media posts.

7. Engineers at both Xbox Live, which is owned by Microsoft, and PlayStation, which is owned by Sony, have been working to resolve the problem. By Friday afternoon, Microsoft claimed to have solved the issue while PlayStation was said to still be facing problems.

8. A group calling itself The Finest Squad has gone to cyber blows with the Lizard Squad, announcing its plan to bringing “cyber-criminals to justice”. The group has reportedly managed to break into the Twitter accounts of some Lizard Squad members and made public their real identities.

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