Hackers have been, well, wreaking havoc of late. The latest victims appear to be Sony PlayStation network users who found themselves the target of computer hackers over the weekend of August 23 – 24, 2014.
While the computer hackers or hacker, who identified themselves with the Twitter handle @LizardSquad, did not attempt to compromise the personal data of Sony PlayStation network’s 53 million users, the hacker did make a bomb threat against an airline flight a Sony executive was traveling on. If you’re looking for a good research paper topic in computer science, consider these recent issues in cyberterrorism and cybersecurity.
A bad weekend for Sony
The hack attack on Sony follows an earlier hacker attack in August by a Russian crime ring. The cyberterrorism group was reported to have gathered more than 1.2 billion user names and passwords, the largest known collection of Internet credentials to date. But obviously, the Russian hackers are not the last of this modern crime wave we will be seeing.
In “Sony Says User Information Safe After Hackers Targeted PlayStation Network” posted at Time, August 25, 2014, Stephanie Burnett shared more about the latest attack. “The purported hacker said the attack was carried out to warn the Japan-based firm that more profits needed to be spent on data security,” Burnett wrote. So while it would appear that @LizardSquad, who accused the company of greed and not protecting its users, is attempting to look out for Sony PlayStation network users, the end doesn’t seem to justify the means.
Trouble times two
Apparently attempting to artificially overwhelm Sony PlayStation’s network wasn’t enough for @LizardSquad. The hacker also tweeted a bomb threat to American Airlines Flight 362, traveling from Dallas to San Diego. Britton Peele blogged in “Hackers tweet about explosive on American Airlines plane leaving DFW, take credit for PlayStation Network outage” on August 24, 2014, for Dallas Morning News’s pop culture blog, “Why that flight, specifically? It seems to be because it was carrying Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley.”
Smedley actually tweeted about the diverting of his flight, but not the reason behind the change. Perhaps in even stranger cyberterrorism news, Peele wrote that @LizardSquad is also claiming the bomb threat and the Sony PlayStation network hack are connected to ISIS, the jihadist group currently linked to the upheaval in Iraq and Syria.
Hackers on the rise
As mentioned above, the weekend’s attempt on the Sony PlayStation network is not the first major attack by computer hackers this year. In “Hackers Claim Data Theft on 800 Million Cards–But Is It True?” from the April 1, 2014, issue of American Banker, Penny Crosman addressed another cyberterrorism attack, this time by a group known as Anonymous Ukraine. The group claimed to have stolen 800 million U.S. credit and debit accounts in March 2014, including information from people in the highest level of politics. But was it true?
Crosman wrote, “Two companies investigating the breach–Risk Based Security and Battelle–say they have been unable to verify that 800 million accounts, including those of the VIPs, have been compromised.” Researchers at Battelle found that many important elements of information were missing, such as the expiration date or credit card validation code. Without those numbers, the cards would be very difficult for anyone to use illegally.
Whether the threat appears real, as with the August PlayStation hackers, or not, as with the March attack by Anonymous Ukraine, all attacks must be investigated—as Sony found out to their dismay over the weekend.
Are some hackers attempting to play the role of a modern-day Robin Hood? Are you concerned about protecting your personal information online or cyberterrorism? Let us know in the comments.