Hackers and Trolls Target Sony, Divert Plane with Fake Bomb Threat

Grounding planes for Twitter followers. Cool move.

by Fruzsina Eordogh
Aug 24 2014, 9:48pm

Image: Joao Carlos Medau

It's been a rough weekend for Sony Playstation. Not only has the game division had its servers targeted by online attackers, but the president of Sony's online entertainment division along with a full aircraft load of people seem to be caught up in it, too.

Sony Playstation network servers in North America went down early this morning due to a DDoS attack. By mid-afternoon, John Smedley, the president of Sony Online Entertainment, had his American Airlines flight to San Diego grounded in Phoenix after a troll group called Lizard Squad tweeted at the airline that there might be explosives on-board. Lizard Squad is claiming credit for the DDoS attack, but that may be unearned. The actual attack on Sony servers seems to have been carried out by a hacker called Famed God. He's provided proof, at least, which Lizard Squad has not.

American Airlines has yet to acknowledge Lizard Squad's threat as the reason for the diversion, citing only "a security related issue." The airline referred further inquiries to the FBI.   

According to Famed God's tweets and a video they put out about the attack, the DDoS was done in order to wake Sony Playstation up security-wise. Famed God has taken to insulting Sony's security by calling it "cheap ass," and implying that the corporation hasn't learned anything from the massive and notorious DDoS attack that took down its network in 2011. Famed God's motivation for the attack, taken from their YouTube video, was about protecting the users from future security breaches:

Sony is a company that lacks the security which makes every user vulnerable to having their information leaked... Please understand, I am here to show, that you as a [corporate] company are vulnerable. Sony You just launched a new system on a new network but it all leads to the same server. How more vulnerable could you make your network? Take [advice] from Microsoft and their ways of security. They know what they're doing and have the security to prevent most attacks. This took little to no effort to [perform] such an attack….You apparently, didnt solve a thing when you went down for a month. I hope you think twice next time.

The motivation for Lizard Squad taking credit for the attack is unclear, but this is common among the hacker and troll community. Tweeting a fake bomb threat at a plane is surely yet another ploy for fame, one that ironically has eluded Famed God, who has taken to disgruntled tweeting about Lizard Squad. (Lizard Squad's style reminds me of the retired trolling group Rustle League, actually.) Since Lizard Squad's fake threat of explosives and media coverage citing it as responsible for the "hack," the group has gained over 15,000 followers on Twitter. One of those followers includes Smedley himself.

Meanwhile, grounded passengers on Flight 362 are tweeting pictures of agents checking their luggage for explosives. Trolls tweeting fake bomb threats at airlines, because prank calling Internet radio shows was soooo 2012.

We'll update as the story progresses.