A self-styled hacking group called Phantom Squad has threatened to hit the online servers of Xbox and PlayStation with a widespread denial-of-service attack this Christmas.
The threat is reminiscent of last year’s Lizard Squad attack on the popular consoles that left millions of gamers unable to access Microsoft and Sony’s online services.
Phantom Squad claimed responsibility for an attack on the Xbox Live service this month that resulted in a short period of downtime. Coinciding with the attack, the group tweeted: ‘#Xbox Live #Offline’.
The Twitter account was swiftly suspended, but the group posted a number of threats including: “We are going to shut down Xbox live and PSN this year on Christmas. And we are going to keep them down for one week straight #DramaAlert”.
Another read: “PSN and Xbox don’t use that money to improve their security. So until they open their eyes Xbox Live and PSN will remain vulnerable.”
Microsoft issued a status update following the incident. “Hey Xbox members, are you having trouble purchasing or managing your subscriptions for Xbox Live? Are you also having an issue with signing into Xbox Live? We are aware of these issues and are working to get it fixed ASAP! Thank you for being patient while we work. We’ll post another update when more information becomes available,” the firm said on the Xbox support page.
Security researcher Graham Cluley said: “If the threats are true, it will certainly put a dampener on the holiday fun for a lot of people, especially those who have just been given a new game or console and are keen to blast each other to smithereens in the true spirit of Christmas.
“Of course, we always have to be careful about claims made anonymously on the internet. It takes little more than the technological know-how of a gerbil to create a Twitter account and make aggressive claims on it.”
A joint investigation between the FBI and law enforcement in the UK was swiftly launched following the attacks against Sony and Microsoft last Christmas, resulting in a number of arrests.
Lizard Squad launched an attack on the National Crime Agency website earlier this year that left the front-facing section offline for a short time.