Here’s a hack many people, except gamers, won’t care about: Xbox Live is being threatened by cybercriminals, with a promise of “knocking it off the planet.” Last week, the connection was shoddy at best, and the status page was being consistently updated while engineers scrambled to achieve stability on the very popular gaming platform. A DDoS attack was in full force, the kind that brought both Xbox Live and the PlayStation network to its knees around Christmas of last year. The New World Hackers has claimed responsibility, adding Xbox Live to its list of targets which also include Donald Trump, ISIS, and the BBC.
The hacker group talked with Newsweek recently about their angle. Some media groups have reached out to the Department of Justice, but their policy has always been not to comment about hacking activities. During the Newsweek interview, one of the members said, “Well, didn’t even take as long as I thought. We attacked Xbox to protest. Major companies like this have massive servers but no real protection. We want Xbox to update the protection they have, which isn’t much.”
An Obvious Answer
The group has a point, although they’ve gone above and beyond to prove it. A platform like Xbox Live needs a top of the line dedicated server, likely one that’s managed by an internal team of experts. While a virtual private server (VPS) is beyond what’s needed for most companies, the biggies like Xbox need to be in the kind of control that only dedicated can offer. The Lizard Squad, another hacking group, took a similar stance against PlayStation. They complained that since Sony was charging for what used to be a free service, they were bound to make enemies and a natural step was to make their security beefier. To prove their message, they went full attack on PSN.
Of course, many hacks are also a power flex to let everyone know just how smart and strong the hackers are. Xbox Live’s vulnerabilities were highlighted and then cemented in the interview. The attacks “also prove we do have as much power as we say we do, going out to the doubters. (We could) honestly knock Xbox off the face of the Earth,” boasted one member.
Is It a Real Threat?
It may be perfectly reasonable that the group could take down Xbox, but even the DDoS attack itself is difficult to really confirm. It’s nearly impossible to know who was truly behind the attacks. Even the BBC attacks have been questioned by some experts. However, regardless of who was behind the attacks, it’s clear that there are vulnerabilities.
Companies, like Xbox and any major company, seriously need to optimize security starting with their hosting, passwords, and security measures. Serving a community like gamers means that hackers, white and black, are going to be naturally drawn to it. Video games are especially attractive since they’re user facing and very obvious when they’re down.
Xbox was created to be a device that’s constantly connected, and that’s a big promise to uphold. Without stability they have nothing.