Christmas is almost upon us, and in the name of holiday spirit (or possibly against it) a newly formed hacker group going by the name of "Phantom Squad" claims to have taken down Microsoft servers that facilitate Xbox Live and related services, citing "cyber security does not exist".
I get asked a lot on why we do this? Why do we take down PSN and Xbox Live? Because cyber security does not exist.-- Phantom Squad (@PhantomSqaud) December 13, 2015
PSN and Xbox Live... Companies that have millions of dollars... and don't bother on working on security.-- Phantom Squad (@PhantomSqaud) December 16, 2015
This is similar to last year's attacks by a group called "Lizard Squad" when both Xbox and PlayStation networks suffered extended outages. Two members of the squad were later arrested in the UK in connection with the case.
Thursday's takedown consisted of DDoS - distributed denial-of-service - attacks, in what is a common method to "flood" the bandwidth of a company's servers by overloading it with connections via multiple computers acting as bots for the hackers.
Phantom Squad announced the attack via their Twitter account at 3:35AM IST on Friday, and threatened to take down PlayStation Network (PSN) next.
Microsoft had confirmed the outage earlier in the day saying: "We are aware of these issues and are working hard to get it fixed ASAP, we'll post another update when more information becomes available."
At the time of filing this report Microsoft was showing the status of Xbox Live Core Services as normal, indicating services had been restored as far as the company was concerned.
Last year, Kim Dotcom, founder of encrypted cloud storage service Mega, got Lizard Squad to stop the attacks by offering 3,000 "premium" lifetime accounts on his service. And before last night's attacks, Dotcom took to Twitter to express his concern at the threats being made:
It remains to be seen if Phantom Squad are hoping for a similar outcome this time around, and whether gamers will be able to enjoy the nuclear wasteland in Fallout 4 come Christmas without any disruptions.