When Lizards Attack: Security Experts Say Lizard Squad Likely Involved in Sony Hack
Earlier this year, a group of hackers ruined the day of a lot of gamers one day when they knocked out the servers of the online role playing game Runescape as well as League of Legends. For perspective, Runescape’s website is the 6,000th most popular page on the internet. Now, they are being linked to the Sony Pictures hack.
Who is Lizard Squad?
Not even a week after their initial attacks, they pulled an IRL hack by tweeting a bomb threat at a very specific American Airlines flight: one carrying none other than Sony Online Entertainment CEO John Smedley, who’d be the top man overseeing the PlayStation Network, which was reportedly also a target of the group.
LizardSquad.com is currently not available, but an archived version of it is interesting to read:
We set out on our journey 2 weeks ago with the plan to cause havoc within the gaming community. Our motives varied throughout this adventure. Originally it was to see if we could evade being caught and to experience the raw thrill of anarchy, not being bound to phony laws. We’ve been called everything from an organized criminal “gang” to complete assholes, really we are just a bunch of guys with too much free time. Throughout our journey we met new people, gained new members, learned new things. People tried taking swings at us (and missed). We proved that even though we are little in this very big world, that a small group of friends who work together can cause a lot of havoc without legal repercussions.
The last part is most interesting. This group seems to very clear on one thing: they will not be caught. One wonders if they believe there is any form of cryptographic security which can in the end truly mask them. The truth is, with the present state of the Tor network and the abysmal state of digital security as evidenced by the attacks they are now being linked to, if the authorities want to find you bad enough, they will.
Because They Can and Because it Pays
Since the beginning of the internet, hackers have been executing the most brilliant attacks they can get away with (or not) for the fame and fun of it. This group is different in that they claim in interviews with Keemstar, the infamous host of gaming podcast DramaAlert, that they do this for money.
“We are Lizard Squad, we do what we do because we can do what we do, said member Plague in one interview.
In a separate interview, he claimed that while they do get paid to hack websites and services, they don’t announce those attacks. “The ones that we announce aren’t paid.” He was being asked about the attack the group had done on the Major League Gaming video stream.
The other famous hacker group of recent times, Anonymous, did not take kindly to the work of Lizard Squad. Earlier this month, Anonymous released a video that ordered the group to stop. The tone of the video makes it sound as if Anonymous is upset because the attacks are aimed at games played by kids and not politically motivated.
Linked to Sony Pictures Hack
On December 23rd, Bloomberg published an article which quoted LA-based cybersecurity firm IntelCrawler as saying that Lizard Squad could either have worked in conjunction with North Korean hackers on the recent Sony hacks or they could actually be responsible. Another possibility is that the linked attacks simply co-incided with each other.
What is clear is that there is little evidence backing up the US Government‘s claim that North Korea was, in fact, behind the hack on Sony. The biggest piece of evidence which links Lizard Squad with the so-called Guardians of Peace is a tweet they made before their account was suspended that said they were “working together with #GoP on a Christmas project.”
While the Federal Government might place lower priority on childish acts like distributed denial of service attacks on game servers and even might rarely catch the actors behind “swatting” (the act of managing to get a SWAT team dispatched to an enemy’s home), Lizard Squad or Guardians of Peace or whoever was behind the attack on Sony Pictures definitely just got itself in the cross hairs when they involved themselves in international affairs regarding a rogue state the government once called part of an “axis of evil.”
Images from Shutterstock.