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Anonymous vs. Sony vs. Hackers – The Story

A lot has been written about Anonymous ever since their Scientology-busting (and a lot of other) crusades began in the middle part of the previous decade. Often scapegoated, rarely available for comment and sometimes downright confusing in their structure and goals, the group has attracted mixed media attention recently, as their recent Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDOS) attack of Sony’s website to protest a grey-area legality lawsuit against the PS3 hacker George Hotz also had some unwanted side effects.

The e-protest unwittingly, or some claim purposefully, provided excellent cover for another online group who exploited the DDOS distracting the Sony security team to hack into servers containing personal data owned by tens of thousands of PSN users. A lot of data was subsequently copied from Sony servers and is now not accounted for, including the credit card details of quite a lot of PSN users.

The Group has since responded to these unlawful activities, claiming they were contrary to the group’s goals, which mostly are one of peaceful, non-violent and non harmful protest in the quest for freedom of speech and expression. Noble causes if there ever were. An open letter has since been published outlining the Groups outrage at both the hacking allegations and at the fact that their nonviolent (A DDOS attack overloads targeted servers with an influx of users and causes it to crash, but does not steal data or cause the owner harm apart from lost advertising revenue and page views) protest was highjacked by online thieves.

The outcome of all this is that the Playstation Network itself has been down for a long period of time, much to the outcry of the user base. PS3 users have received apologies from Sony CEO Howard Stringer for the problem, in a letter found here, as well as promises of treats such as free content download, as well as a free 30 day membership to PlayStation Plus, is being offered to users who sign back up to the PSN when the service resumes service… at some point. Nobody knows yet.

Back on the digital trail, finding members or those associated with Anonymous who were prepared to make a coherent and non-NSFW comment proved difficult.  After getting through ‘Legions’ of crazy forum goers, ignoring the barrage of ‘u r a prick grr stop posting etc’, I got a few opinions from Anonymous members.

Several members are in the anarchistic belief that the PSN going down will somewhat alleviate the gamer generation’s lack of imagination when it comes to finding something else to do with their lives, and additionally cause Sony some anguish, as it is a ‘large evil corporation’ or something along those lines. This is a fair point, gamers can always benefit from a break from games, mostly because there is a whole world out there and sometimes we should be out there in it and as for Sony, it’s not like they’ve even lost much revenue from the incident. But that remains to be seen.

Other Anons ardently believe that their group or its representatives couldn’t have done it, as it goes against the Groups founding principles.  The group always claims responsibility for attacks or DDOS events, and is either motivated by prankish laughs or politics. However, there is more than one group operating under the Anonymous name, so nearly all Anons or those associated with the group get lumped in with DDOS accusations; they’re getting pretty sick of it apparently.

Further Anons don’t know or care who performed the hacking incident, but are tired of the press and other internet people blaming them for the issue, and additionally drawing attention to the group, since the attention causes their funniest and best secret pranks to be laid bare and halted due to constant media attention… oh dear, sorry guys. At least I’m not telling everyone about the next plan.

Well, in the end all that matters is that no real people lose their money to this hacking, Sony gets their equipment sorted (Media reports suggest their security had no firewall and was extremely outdated) and players get online again. Hopefully the next hacker ultimatum of an upcoming attack this weekend reported recently in CNET is either a hoax or easily deflected by a now vigilant Sony. Watch this space for more.