2011 PSN Hackers Plead Guilty, to Be Sentenced Next Month
Remember the Great PSN Outage of 2011? Four British hackers have plead guilty to the digital attack that led to a full month of network downtime. The April 2011 incident left gamers frustrated and allegedly cost Sony billions of dollars.
The four men, who range in age from 18 to 26, will be sentenced next month in the long-awaited conclusion to this saga. All four were members of Lulz Security (Lulzsec), a splinter group of hacktivist collective Anonymous.
The story began when Anonymous declared digital war on Sony in support of renowned PS3 hacker George “Geohot” Hotz with the following statement:
“Your official websites will be taken offline, including the PlayStation store.”
When Sony’s websites were taken down shortly thereafter, the obvious culprit was Anonymous. But when the PSN was taken down by hackers in April, Anonymous denied responsibility for this second attack.
Initially playing coy about the reason for the PSN outage, Sony revealed after two days of downtime that hackers were responsible. The full statement read:
“An external intrusion on our system has affected our PlayStation Network and Qriocity services. In order to conduct a thorough investigation and to verify the smooth and secure operation of our network services going forward, we turned off PlayStation Network & Qriocity services on the evening of Wednesday, April 20th. Providing quality entertainment services to our customers and partners is our utmost priority. We are doing all we can to resolve this situation quickly, and we once again thank you for your patience. We will continue to update you promptly as we have additional information to share.”
While what really happened may never be known for sure, it’s likely that someone from Anonymous who was involved in the first attack found a vulnerability in the PSN that could be exploited, and that this information ended up in the hands of the Lulzsec culprits.
The outage lasted a month, but not all gamers waited around for Sony to get its act together. The company reported that by June 29, 90 percent of PSN users were back online. There are two implications therein: first, that it took a while for Sony to rebuild its active playerbase in the fallout of the outage. Second, that it potentially lost customers altogether.
The Japanese PSN took even longer to recover — servers were only restored in Japan on July 6. Sony predicted huge losses in the wake of the attack. In a message sent to investors, Sony predicted that the PSN outage, in combination with the aftermath of March’s Tōhoku quake and subsequent tsunami, might end up costing the company $3.1 billion.
Now, justice has come calling, and the hackers will get their just deserts. Lulzsec didn’t win many fans when it chose to deliver its message in a way that rendered countless gamers unable to enjoy the console and games they paid for — and I bet they’ll find few sympathizers once their sentence is delivered next month.
What do you think? Should we sympathize with the Lulzsec hackers? Is it worth losing your service to teach a company like Sony a lesson?