While I can't honestly say that the Lizard Squad ruined Christmas this year, the hacking group prevented me from playing my freshly acquired copy of Bungie's Destiny for the PlayStation 3. The inability to play the game was a bummer to say the least, and at first I grew furious with Sony and Bungie over the connection issues. I couldn't even install the necessary patches to get the game up to speed.
But as reports began to surface that both PlayStation Network and Xbox Live were suffering Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, all I could do was shake my head. Really people? Why disrupt these networks on Christmas Day? The answer is simple: Lizard Squad was demonstrating its DDoS tool, a tool the group is now offering for a low monthly starting price of $5.99. Now anyone can cause havoc on the Internet.
The tool is called the Lizard Stresser, and it comes with eight different price plans. The price goes up as the duration of the attack goes up. For example, the starting price pays for an attack that lasts for 100 seconds. Want something longer? Try 1500 seconds for $28.99 per month. The most expensive package is the 30,000-second monthly subscription, which will cost $129.99 per month or $500 for a "lifetime" subscription.
The group also provides add-ons, such as the concurrent "dual boot" for $299.99 and a 5x concurrent "dual boot" for a meaty $1139.99. All fees and purchases are made using Bitcoin; however, the group plans to add PayPal support in the near future. Payments through VPNs aren't supported, so customers will need to find a different way to hide their purchases.
According to VentureBeat, the Lizard Stresser has been used three times since the Lizard Squad began offering the subscription plans about ten hours before this report.
So what's a DDoS? This attack requires access to a botnet, which is a network of computers controlled by the DDoS author. Those who use the new tool will be able to flood a specific server to the point that normal traffic cannot access the targeted service, such as PSN and Xbox Live. Typically, a DDoS attack is used as part of a protest. (Anonymous comes to mind.)
Recently, one of the group's members contacted Daily Dot and said the Christmas Day hack was merely a marketing scheme. "Playing games on a Twitter is fun, but it comes down to the money. The objective here, for me at least -- can't speak for others -- is money." Other members of the group said they attacked the gaming networks for the "lulz" (aka "for laughs").
Xbox and PlayStation customers sure weren't laughing on Christmas Day.
Regardless, the big story here is that a DDoS tool will be made available to anyone on the Internet. The Lizard Squad plans to let its tool take the stage while the group fades back into the background. The group has already promised it won't attack PSN and Xbox Live again, but that won't thwart disgruntled gamers with a little bit of cash in their pockets.