Hackers: Who they are, why they are pissed and why you should care
In case you missed the whole PSN thing, the bit where Sony’s online system was offline for the better part of two months and everyone who owned a Playstation was pissed, I’ll let you know right now that we are experiencing a hacking epidemic across the world at the moment.
Far from being only a Sony problem, the amount of sites and services hacked have varied from the Turkish Government to game distributers like Bethesda Softworks to the US Senate.
Where did this all start? Well the final straw for hackers worldwide seems to have been Sony’s $100 million dollar lawsuit against the now infamous hacker George ‘GeoHot’ Hotz after he published a video showing how to hack a PlayStation 3 so it could play using custom software (as opposed to hacking it so you can play free games).
This prompted the enigmatic hacker group “Anonymous”, consisting of an unknown amount of hackers who operate (you guessed it) anonymously, to attack Sony which caused their $171 million dollar fall out.
But this was only the beginning. It seems that once hacking got some publicity in the media every other hacking organisation on earth began to carry out their own attacks. Most recently this has been the group “Lulz Security” which has claimed responsibility for recent attacks on the US Senate and some game providers.
What does this mean for you? Well, while watching news stories like “Spanish police website hit by Anonymous hackers” shortly after news stories like “Spanish police arrest 3 men from hacking group Anonymous” is pretty amusing, the reality is a little more serious.
As the large majority of these attacks have been against game providers, gamers are at a certain amount of risk at the moment – especially if you are gaming online. So if you are on any kind of pay-to-play software currently (hello World of Warcraft players) I would advise caution. Researching other methods of payment (like game time cards) might be a good idea and definitely watching where you put your credit card information online is a must (like always).
The saddest part about all this is in so many ways I agree with the hackers. When they use their powers for promoting free speech and preventing internet censorship it makes me wish there was a guy I walked past at the train station with a donation bucket for Anonymous. But unfortunately it seems that a large part of the hacking community has adopted a hack-if-we-can policy causing widespread random attacks. And since I would assume at least 60% of hackers are also gamers (at least!), this only ends up hurting themselves.