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Hackers Threaten Christmas Takedown of PlayStation Network, Xbox Live

An anonymous group of hackers known as the Phantom Squad have threatened to disrupt Sony’s PlayStation Network and Microsoft’s Xbox Live services around the Christmas holiday.

The group recently posted a message on Twitter announcing their intentions, and also said that they plan on keeping both services offline for an entire week. At the moment, the group appears to include only five members and to be working toward making a name for itself by targeting various websites and services to prove it is effective, including Reddit and gaming platforms.

In a series of subsequent tweets, the group revealed that they plan on attacking the two gaming platforms because “cyber security does not exist.” Phantom Squad also says that both PlayStation Network and Xbox Live are vulnerable to attacks, and even claim to have managed to take down the latter over the weekend. On Sunday, they posted a tweet linking to a screenshot deemed to be proof of their achievement.

While it's unconfirmed if the outage was a result of attacks on its systems, Microsoft did ackowledge issues with it's plaform on Saturday afternoon. "We are currently investigating issues w/ signing in, managing friends, & matchmaking. Updates here while we work: http://xbx.lv/XBLstus," Microsoft's XBox Support Twitter account tweeted.

Should the hackers be successful, the two popular gaming networks would be down for Christmas for the second year in a row, after being targeted by a group called Lizard Squad last year. The group launched distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against both services, taking them down for around three days.

Last year, controversial Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom helped end the attack by offering the hackers premium accounts on his encrypted upload service Mega, NZHerald reports. Earlier this week, he took to Twitter to express his expectation that Sony and Microsoft managed to improve the security of their services to avoid disruption this Holiday Season.

It’s yet unclear whether Phantom Squad, who claim to be unrelated to Lizard Squad, will indeed launch DDoS attacks to disrupt the two gaming platforms next week. A recent tweet from the group suggests they might “turn good and no longer threaten or attack the gaming community,” provided this idea receives enough support on Twitter.

The group’s overall intentions are not very clear based on the messages they have published on Twitter over the past several days. While they continue to target various websites and online services, they also claim to be Gray Hat hackers and have declared war on the Islamic State group, being the second group of hackers to do so, after Anonymous launched an operation to take down social media accounts associated with the Islamic State.

Last year’s attack on the PSN and Xbox Live resulted in an 18-year-old being arrested in the United Kingdom, on January 16. In late December, the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) arrested 22-year-old Vincent Omari suspected to have been involved in the attacks as well, but he was released on bail and denied affiliation with Lizard Squad.

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