The computer networks for Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation 4 video game consoles were offline for most of Christmas Day, possibly because of an attack by a group of hackers with a history of targeting video games.
The hackers who call themselves the “Lizard Squad” claimed responsibility on Twitter for the shutdown, which essentially rendered the gaming devices unusable, but neither company confirmed the source of its problems. A Microsoft spokesman on Friday said the Xbox network was back up, but he declined to comment on the cause.
Press officials for Sony did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The attack on the Sony and Microsoft gaming networks comes after a recent hacking of Sony Pictures’ computer network that law enforcement officials have linked to North Korea. There is no current evidence that the game system attack and the earlier hacking are connected.
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On Thursday, the Lizard Squad claimed to have taken down Sony’s PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, Microsoft’s online game services.
Gamers complained that they could not use their accounts. Both Sony PlayStation and Xbox Live acknowledged that they were having service problems through their Twitter accounts and service pages. On Twitter, Lizard Squad took credit, claiming that the attacks were its biggest yet.
Lizard Squad said earlier that it planned to attack the gaming services on Christmas with a distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attack, in which servers are flooded with Internet traffic until they collapse under the load.
Lizard Squad appeared to have made good on its threat. Some PlayStation and Xbox users reported issues connecting with servers for the consoles. The support pages for both Sony and Microsoft reported server problems.
On Thursday, a man who has had his own brushes with the law appeared to have intervened. Kim Dotcom, the Internet entrepreneur accused of mass copyright theft and a self-proclaimed Xbox gamer, said on Twitter that he had an offer for Lizard Squad: If it stopped attacking the Sony and Microsoft servers, it could receive free access to his new privacy service Mega.
Kim Dotcom did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The group claiming to be LizardSquad later said it had accepted Dotcom’s offer and stopped the attacks.
Soon after, Xbox’s service went back up, and some PlayStation users reported that their service had been restored. However, the PlayStation Network was still down Friday morning, according to Sony’s support webpage.