PlayStation, Xbox service in US goes down on Christmas, hacking group claims responsibility

Online hackers say they are responsible for an online service outage of Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox game consoles on Dec 25, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Online hackers say they are responsible for an online service outage of Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox game consoles on Dec 25, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP/REUTERS) - Online hackers have taken credit for an online service outage of Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox game consoles on Thursday that occurred as people unwrapped their new toys Christmas morning. PlayStation and Xbox acknowledged the outages of their networks on Twitter and said they were working to restore service.

A Twitter user going by the name "Lizard Squad" took credit for the outage, claiming they had the "nation on strings". The account did not return request for comment and only became active on Wednesday.

The Lizard Squad name corresponds to a group of hackers that has caused havoc in the online world before. The group took credit for attacks that took down the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live network at the beginning of the month.

Users vented their frustration with the outage online, and Xbox said on Twitter it could not estimate when service would return.

Both companies expected heavy use as people who received Microsoft Xbox players or Sony PlayStations on Christmas tried to hook up.

The problems may have been exacerbated by Sony’s decision to let consumers download the controversial movie The Interview through Xbox Video as well as other online sources.

“Are you having a rough time signing in to Xbox Live?,” a service alert on the Microsoft product’s website asked. “We’re working to get this figured out right away. We appreciate your patience.”

Two hours after the message was posted at 4.33pm Eastern Time, the Xbox Live site said technicians were still “hard at work trying to reach a solution”.

As of 7.30pm Eastern Time, PlayStation Network was still offline, according to the device’s status page.

“We are aware that some users are experiencing difficulty logging into the PSN,” it said. “We will update this article with any changes that occur in regards to this issue. Thank you for your patience.”

Three Xbox platforms were affected by the service problem: Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Xbox on other devices, Microsoft’s status website said.

Spokesmen at Sony and Microsoft did not immediately respond for comment.

“I have the nation on strings,” Lizard Squad wrote on its Twitter site. It also said it would put the sites back online if enough people retweeted its messages.Earlier on Thursday, Microsoft Xbox spokesman Sean McCarthy declined to give details of how the company may have been preparing for security breaches, given the problems that Sony has experienced in releasing The Interview.

“Of course, it’s safe to say holiday season is always a very busy time of year for any consumer electronics company, so we work hard to ensure the stability of our infrastructure when so many consoles are activating for the first time.”