Some of the biggest online gaming networks have been hit by hackers claiming to be linked to the jihadist group Islamic State, affecting Sony’s Playstation Network, Microsoft’s XBox Live, Blizzard’s Battle.net and Grinding Gear Games
The attack forced many services offline over Sunday, and the attackes also coincided with a Twitter bomb threat targeted at Sony Executives.
A warning that the flight – from Dallas-Fort Worth to San Diego – was carrying explosives was subsequently repeated by a Twitter account that had been used to claim responsibility for the online attacks.
John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment, had been tweeting about his firm’s efforts to combat a “large scale DDoS” before posting a message saying he was about to board the plane.
DDoS stands for distributed denial of service attack – a technique in which many computers are used to flood an online service with requests in an attempt to overload its systems.
After the threatened plane landed in Phoenix, Arizona, Mr Smedley tweeted: “Yes, my plane was diverted. Not going to discuss more than that. Justice will find these guys.”
A spokeswoman for Sony said that the FBI was now investigating the diversion. However, the Bureau has yet to issue a statement of its own.
A Twitter account that has claimed responsibility for attacking Sony and the other video games firms has linked the attacks to the jihadist group Islamic State, posting: “Kuffar [non-believers] don’t get to play videogames until bombing of the ISIL stops.”
It also makes several references to Isis – the former name used by the Islamic militants.
But it is unclear whether this is a diversionary tactic, since an earlier post by the same account states: “Sony, yet another large company, but they aren’t spending the waves of cash they obtain on their customers’ PSN service. End the greed.”
Sony said that no personal information was stolen as part of the breach. Hackers compromised the company’s network — including the personal data of 77 million user accounts — in 2011. Since then, the network’s security has been upgraded, the company said.
Meanwhile, a message on the Xbox LIve support site stated that Xbox One owners were experiencing “server unavailability issues” when trying to join other players in online games.
The webpage also mentions problems faced by owners of the Xbox 360 trying to connect to Diablo III’s party chat feature.
This appears to be a consequence of an attack on Activision Blizzard’s gaming service Battle.net, which also supports World of Warcraft and Starcraft titles.
“Battle.net game services have recently been subject to DDoS attacks. We worked diligently along with our ISPs [internet service providers] to improve the situation and currently are seeing more stability,” said a message posted to the facility’s site.